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Animals Are My Life 

(Hamburg 1955) 

(London 1956) 




Lorenz Hagenbeck 


Alec Brown 


First published in England 

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention. 
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of 
private study, research, criticism or review, as per- 
mitted under the Copyright Act igi 1 , no portion 
may be reproduced by any process without written 
permission .Enquiry should be made to the publisher. 

Printed in Great Britain by 

The Garden City Press Limited, Letchworth, Hertfordshire 
for John Lane The Bodley Head Limited 
28 Little Russell Street , /one/on, W.C.I. 

Animals Are My Life 



Preface 1 3 

'Not one of these Caravan Folk* I g 

The Indian 's Wealth the Elephant 33 

On the Pike' at St. Louis, U.S.A. 48 

South- West with Two Thousand Dromedaries 65 

Patent No. 91,492 Becomes Reality 77 

The First Sea-Elephants come to Germany 84 

Troublesome Heritage the Animal Park 93 

Wartime Circuses with and without Tents i o 2 

We Become Billionaires 1 1 r, 

The Great Battle of Stellingen 124 

The Devil Dancers Capture Scandinavia 136 

From Tears to Laughter 146 

The Ocean Brings a Fairy Ship I 54 

Marvelling at Kirin 1 6 2 

Destroyed by Typhoon 1 6 8 

Melancholy Tea with Mr. Wong 1 74 

A Maharaja Fills the House 183 

No Piastres for Hagenbeck 193 

Locusts Halt the Circus Train 199 

'Men, Animals, Sensations' 210 

Bombs on Animal Paradise 2 1 6 

Elephant Protest at Malmo 223 

Onagers have the Devil in Them 233 

We'll Shoot at Hagenbeck's 244 

Break Down the Frontiers ! 248 



Lorenz Hagenbeck. 

Facing page 

1 6 (a) Grandfather begins with seals in St. Pauli. 

(b) Unpacking and weighing snakes, tortoises and crocodiles 
at the Neuer Pferdemarkt. 

(c) Unloading a consignment from Africa. (From the original 
drawings by Heinrich Leutemann). 

1 7 My father, Carl Hagenbeck. 

(below) My grandfather, G. C. C. Hagenbeck. 

32 Animals which in Nature never meet: a performing group 
bringing together polar bears, lions and brown bears. 

3 3 (left) Black Eagle, Sioux Chief, in full war paint. 

(right) Somali Prince Hersy Egeh, whose son attended our 
Stellingen primary school. 

64 A rattlesnake dangerously poisonous: the annular horny 
growth at the tip of the tail, which causes the rattle, can 
clearly be seen. 

65 Some of the inmates of Stellingen: King Penguins, and 
(above) a Sea-Elephant. 

80 Our Igorots stare in amazement at our St. Louis Arctic Panorama. 

(below) Peaceful watering : the scene only a few seconds before 
our elephants stampeded at Des Moines. 

8 1 A lion on its way to the circus ring. 

1 1 2 My father and his favourite walrus ; a painting by Lovis Corinth 
(Hamburg Art Gallery). 

(below) Together with my brother, Heinrich, I receive Kaiser 
Wilhelm II at Stellingen. On the right, with walking-stick, is 
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. 

Facing page 

113 Stellingen's Zoological sensation of 192^! Goliath the Sea- 

128 A giant of the jungle holds her foot with three and a half tons 
weight behind it over her trainer 's head, but little Uwe does 
not fear for his father; he knows he himself can handle the 
gentle Roma. 

(below) Aquatic delights in Stellingen's elephant pool: ample 
water and a good mud wallow are essentials in an elephant's 

129 Lulu Gauticr on his Lipizzaner mount Favory Maestoso. 

144 Mosques and Singhalese villages at Stellingen. Such accurate 
reconstructions formed the background to our famous shows 
of Peoples of the World. Here we see Arabs outside a typical 
* oasis town.' 

(below) A dwarf zebu in harness in a typical village scene. In 
this setting more than one early German film was made. 

14^ 'Black on white.' Zebras were once called * tiger-horses'. 

1 60 Rudolf Jurkschat, his Arab steed and team of twelve, a great 
feature of our touring circus. 

(below) Richard Sawade with his lions and tigers at Hagenbeck's 
Animal Park, Stellingen. 

1 6 1 A bird's-eye view of our canvas town whether at home or in 
far-off Tokyo, perfect order was the rule. 

(below) Meni, our working elephant, handled many a load of 
circus material. 

176 A ten-thousand-tonner is transformed into a Noah's Ark. 
Loading the s.s. Saarland at Hamburg, for Yokohama. 

(below) Clownish business under the aegis of the Pyramids. 

177 * Hagenbeck's,' the round-the-world circus, in Japan. 
(centre) After the typhoon at Hakata (Kyushu). 
(bottom) Performances continued in the open air. 

192 The Royal Tiger's incisors are razor-sharp. 


Facing page 

193 Tiger trainer Rudolf Matthies at work. The tiger in this 
picture is leaping through an eigh teen-inch hoop. 

224 The end of the Berlin Deutschland Hall. Without any panic, 
an audience of fifteen thousand persons followed each other 
outside, while the men hauled out the mobile cages with lions 
and tigers. 

225 A lady giraffe haughtily steps out of her well-cushioned special 

(right) Richard Sawade's pet tiger surprises a noisy party in a 
deck cabin during one of our voyages. 

240 My brother Heinrich Hagenbeck with polar bears and a walrus 
at Stellingen. 

(below) Three generations of Hagenbecks. Standing, left to 
right: Carl Heinrich Hagenbeck (nephew of Lorenz Hagen- 
beck), Erich Hagenbeck (son), Mrs. Heike Hagenbeck (wile of 
Carl Heinrich), Mrs. Else Hagenbeck (wife), Dietrich Hagenbeck 
(grandson). Sitting: Lorenz Hagenbeck, Evelyn Hagenbeck 
(grand-daughter) . 

241 A valuable passenger from the Persian salt desert. The first 
onager foal to set foot in Hamburg being led from the aircraft 
by my nephew, Carl Heinrich and my grandson, Dietrich. 


A TUB of seals at St. Pauli more than a century ago was the beginning 
of Carl Hagenbeck's. In 1 848, some Elbe fishermen happened to catch 
six seals in their net. They delivered their catch to my grandfather, 
Gottfried Clas Carl Hagenbeck, who was a fishmonger. He had the 
lucky idea of putting those seals on show for a small charge in his 
backyard in St. Pauli. 

Neither he nor the Hamburg idlers then guessed that the name of 
his eldest son, Carl my father would go down in the history of 
zoos and circuses as the initiator of the 'kindness training method* and 
the founder of the first free-quarters animal park in the world. My 
father's book, Of Beasts and Men, which has appeared in many lan- 
guages, tells the story of the adventurous rise of our firm. It remains 
for me, his youngest son, to tell the no less gripping subsequent story 
of our enterprise. 

My elder brother, Heinrich, built it up with my assistance, and I 
shall be happy if by these reminiscences I can at the same time keep 
his memory alive. It is to him that our Stellingen Animal Park owes 
its present-day form. It was Heinrich who, with an animal park far 
larger and finer than Father had first dreamed, set up a lasting memorial. 

Four generations of Stellingen Hagenbecks have worked together on 
this enterprise, which has comprised animal park, animal catching, 
trade in animals and a circus. Together these have transformed the 
name of an unknown village into what in the twentieth century is 
among animal-lovers throughout the world a definite concept of zoo 

I dedicate this book to my nephew Carl Heinrich and my grandson 
Dietrich, in the hope that they will both continue to make it their 
calling to mediate between animals and men. 

Stellingen, Hamburg, LORENZ HAGENBECK 



ON MY fifth birthday, my grandfather, who lived in a little ivy-covered 
cottage in Sternschanz Street, brought me a whopping big parcel. He 
had had a saddler make me a fine fat leather 'rocking elephant.' This 
put me into a terrible dilemma. I was torn between the desire to rock 
on my elephant and another passion, which already had me in thrall 
to admire my circus I For my father had given me a perfect little scale 
model of the first 'Hagenbeck Travelling Circus,' which that very 
evening he was to open for its first performance on the open ground 
known as the 'Holy Ghost Field.'* 

Yes, the passion was already there. 

From my earliest memories the word Circus has inflamed my ima- 
gination. How well I recall those little models with which my parents 
surprised me. They were in perfect detail. I can still see that 'big top' 
my first its brightly painted wagons and its animals. Nothing was 
missing, from the monkeys' cage to the brass band musicians with 
cockades in their cocked hats. 

That evening, when the real circus opened, there was no holding 
my sisters older than I was or myself, for excitement, and we 
simply burned with envy of my brother Heinrich, who was seven 
years my senior. For my father had given him permission to take part 
that evening in the very first item, the Hungarian Post parade, in 
which he was to appear on his quick-footed little pony. 

I think my mother was in fact the only member of our household 
who was not beside herself with excitement. She, I remember, kept 
peering up across the coffee-pot and out of the window. I wondered 
why she was so anxious. But there was a keen wind outside, the ropes 
lashed noisily against our flagstaff, and the handful of people who came 
that afternoon to see our little menagerie had to go chasing their hats 
as they emerged from the yard into the wind-swept street. 

Suddenly there was the clatter of hoofs outside ! Then, what did we 

see but our own ostler, driving before him a confused troop of camels, 

horses and circus ponies, their manes all wild with the wind. Swiftly 

my mother flung open the window. The curtains blew into the room. 

* Heiligengeistfeld. 


We heard the man shouting. Then suddenly we all knew that a sud- 
den burst of the gale had brought our big circus tent in confusion to 
the ground. 

We children all fell a-weeping, from sheer disappointment, of 
course. It was not till long after that I learned that we nearly had real 
cause for grief that night ; under a falling mast my father had escaped 
death by a mere hair's breadth. 

What was it turned my father into a wanderer on the face of the 
world? For his whole life was travel. He visited every clime and his 
men caught animals for him in every land. Was he not 'by appoint- 
ment* Court Supplier to the Emperor of Germany, to the Emperors 
of Austria-Hungary and Russia too, also to the Sultan of Morocco and 
the fabulous Mikado of Japan? 

My mother told Heinrich and me the story many times. Her 
acquaintance with my father had an early beginning. It went right 
back to the time when she being the child of a near neighbour 
together with Father she gutted sprats for smoking at the back of my 
grandfather's fish shop in Hamburg. Nobody knew better than Mother 
the arduous, diligent life which Father had had, to rise from the small- 
est beginnings to the position which in the English press earned him 
the title of The King of Menagerie Owners/ 

Then the Sudan uprising of the Mahdi broke out, and at one blow 
the African animal trade which had become Father's source of income 
was crippled. The resilience and drive of a man of Hanseatic forbears 
was called for to get that Hamburg big-game traffic going again. Far 
into the night burned the paraffin lamp over the desk where Father 
kept maps covering the whole world, and it was not long before there 
were new telegraphic orders flying in all directions. The Norwegian 
ship's captain Adrian Jacobsen, who in 1878 in his brig the Walrus 
brought Father the first Eskimos ever to visit Germany and, what is 
more, exhibited them to the Emperor Wilhelm I was now sent to 
Alaska to fetch some Bella Coola Indians. Behnke, another of our 
travellers, had to go off to the Volga basin to fetch members of the 
Kalmyk nation. Essler, a Hungarian who had spent years of his life as 
a slave at the court of King Theodor of Ethiopia, was dispatched to 
the Congo. 

The reason for all this was that in Europe an interest in colonial ex- 
pansion had suddenly been awakened, and exhibitions of exotic living 
races drew enormous crowds. At that time, do not forget, neither 
illustrated magazines nor cinemas had been invented. My father sent 







St. Paul) 






at the 



a consign- 
ment from 

from the 


I cutemann 

Left: My Grandfather, 


his best man and personal friend, Joseph Menges, who had just played 
a conspicuous part in General Gordon's expedition to Khartoum, to 
India, to bring that continent into the ambit of his traffic in big game. 
Menges scouted, and knowledgeable travellers followed on and made 
all the arrangements. 

Three years later it needed mounted police in Berlin to control the 
mass of ninety- three thousand visitors who surged to see the great Carl 
Hagenbeck's 'Folk Exhibition of Kalmyks and Singhalese.' Father's 
ethnographic shows had certainly rung the bell. A year later came the 
'Grand Ceylon Show,' which included twenty-five Indian working 
elephants* with first-rate ethnographical material. The magnificent 
Perra-Harra procession, with parade elephants, made painters, ethno- 
graphers, press and general public alike wildly enthusiastic. The old 

* A sharp distinction is to be made between elephants trained to work (mainly of 
Indian origin) and elephants trained to perform of both Indian and African origin. 

2 AML 


Moorweiden Hall, opposite the site of the modern Dammtor station, 
could not hold enough people. A triumphant tour through all the 
principal cities of Europe followed. 

All this, of course, brought my father more and more fame. At the 
same time, however, my maternal Uncle Heinrich Mehrmann sighed 
over the accounts, permanently horrified by the expenses sheet or 
sheets. Fares and freight, insurance, performers* fees, fodder, hire of 
halls, all together added up to staggering figures. Why, argued Uncle 
Heinrich, with such outgoings it only needed one rainy week to spell 
financial ruin ! 

The next stage was that there had to be a giant big top, one like 
Barnum and Bailey's in the United States of America! So Father 
assured my mother. But 'Counsellor Renz,' to whom Father had just 
supplied two newly arrived giraffes for his Queen ofSheba show, pooh- 
poohed 'all that Yankee hooey/ That would last no time, said Renz. 
'No harm in seeing,' insisted Father. And off he went across the duck- 
pond, taking Uncle Heinrich with him, just to have a look. They duly 
inspected the newfangled circus-inside-a-tent from every possible 
angle and came to the conclusion that we could do with one like that 
in Hamburg. Back in Hamburg, Father lost no time adapting all that 
Mr. Bailey had shown him. He had no lack of groups of performing 
animals or of ordinary menagerie animals. He could easily manage a 
display of Indian peoples. In addition, there were tent and wagon 
makers eager for orders. Thus eventually all that those two American 
travellers had dreamed about on their way home was at last heralded 
in Hamburg's leading daily, the Reform, of a day in April 1887 in the 
following words : 'Tomorrow Carl Hagenbeck is to exhibit an Inter- 
national Circus and Singhalese Caravan on the Heiligengeist Held.' 

Tomorrow came, but, shortly before the gates were opened, our 
first big top had been laid low by the gale. 

Was Father beaten? By no means! Forty-eight hours later, Ham- 
burg carpenters had bonded ship's masts to the tent-poles. Day and 
night on his feet, at the end of tremendous efforts Father saw an 
audience of three thousand Hamburg folk ranged in the first big tent 
which bore our name. We children clapped like mad when the mo- 
ment came for our brother Heinrich (in Hungarian costume) to ride 
in immediately on the heels of the band, which to a man was mounted 
on magnificently caparisoned elephants ! Our Jumbos were in charge 
of Thompson, a famous American negro animal tamer of the day. Be- 
hind the elephants came lions, tigers and panthers. More than forty 



horses trotted into the ring, which already at that date was lighted by 
electricity, while at home we contented ourselves huddling round 
the table over paraffin lamps ! 

We also had Argentinian girl riders. There were tight-rope walkers, 
too, and above all, to delight my sisters and me, there were those 
famous clowns, Olshanski and Tom Belling, already christened 
'August' by Berliners when they had appeared in Renz's Circus. The 
high point, however, was a pantomime entitled An Excursion to Wate- 
gama in Ceylon, a show in which everybody joined in with the group 
of Singhalese to form a really colourful display. 

A wonderful memory, for five years old, you say? Yes, especially 
since to this day I have kept the programme of that show which fifty 
years later was to lead to a really amazing reunion of old friends in 
Rio de Janeiro. 

But I must not run ahead. For three weeks, my sisters and I, to- 
gether with our friends, were of course daily visitors to the Heiligen- 
geist Field. And when it was all over, my toy circus came in for great 
service. Over and over again I built it up and took it down and also 
rode, mounted on my rocking elephant, in and out among the chairs 
till my poor mother put her foo down I was ruining her carpet or 
her polished boards. 

From Mother, indeed, 1 certainly did not get my natural disposition 
for the folk of the road. Indeed, I must have imbibed it from my wet- 
nurse, Crete. Crete, a native of that colourful Hamburg suburb St. 
Pauli, was a most buxom young woman, whom Fritz Schipfman (who 
travelled for us in Russia) had picked for wife when he saw her in a 
pub performing as a snake-charmer. St. Pauli, south of the Heiligen- 
geist Field, had then long been famous for its many bars and wine- 
cellars, but during the cholera epidemic I remember my godfather, 
Lorenz Kollisch, town veterinary surgeon (who then shared our house 
with us), prescribed no beverage but boiled water ! To this day I re- 
member the gruesome rumble of the corpse-wagon through the 
Augusten Alley. Day in, day out there were new victims of that ter- 
rible epidemic. It raged with particular severity in overcrowded St. 
Pauli, striking people down in thousands. My father happened to be 
away at the time, in Chicago, busy with preparations for his circus 
and menagerie at the 1893 World Exhibition. Our zoo at home was 
left in the charge of Joseph Menges. My mother's predominant care 
was of course for us children, particularly ailing little 'Lorrie,' as I 
was called in our Hamburg dialect, but thanks to Uncle Kollisch 's 



good guidance, we were kept well and cheerful all through that 
anxious time. 

We were always a hospitable household. Rare was the day when 
there was no visitor to join us round our enormous family dining- 
table. Mother always cooked for at least a dozen hungry trenchermen, 
while on the great feast days Father in patriarchal style liked to have 
all the family gathered round him. One frequent visitor I remember 
with particular vividness. His jolly Saxon dialect still rings in my ears. 
This was the famous animal painter, Heinrich Leutemann. His pencil 
had recorded for us the very birth of the Hagenbeck Animal Park in 
the shape of a drawing of the big tubful of seals with which the enter- 
prise began. It was a rare year in which we had no visit from the 
veteran artist, who was always on the look-out for a novel sketch for 
the Our Home magazine.* Sometimes he would bring one of his young 
pupils with him. How well I remember one of these, who, one morn- 
ing at breakfast, found himself faced with a table problem which had 
him beaten. For Mother gave him a boiled egg, and the lad had actu- 
ally never seen such a thing. What on earth was the proper way to 
open it? The young man squinted across at his teacher, but dear old 
Leutemann was deep in conversation with my father. So our visitor 
essayed a few little taps on the shell, but far too cautiously. Then, as 
this tip- tapping produced no result, he decided the object must be 
treated like a walnut, so he took it between his hands, put these 
between his knees, brought his legs together with a mighty clash. 
With a swift squelch, up spurted the golden fountain of yolk, all over 
my father's grey beard! Everybody at table laughed till the tears ran, 
while Mother did her best to pacify Father and wipe the decoration 
off him, after which he took it upon himself to show the embarrassed 
young artist how people in Hamburg ate boiled eggs. 

Oh, that carefree St. Pauli childhood! The trams in those days 
rattled through the streets behind horses, and old housewives along 
the route of the Wandsbek line cursed the 'puffing flat-iron* the first 
steam railway in those parts because it made their lace curtains 
smutty, f 

Out to Altona ran the 'Chinese Railway* on which one could get 
seasick. This line owed its nickname to its appearance its rolling- 

* i.e. the magazine Daheim. 

t A comical little engine with a tall, narrow chimney drew a sort of tram-car with 
lower deck and a short upper deck reached by an external stairway either end. 



stock was yellow and covered with ornamentation which might have 
belonged to a pagoda. Cooks still argued fiercely about the Customs 
Union, which, bringing Hamburg into the general German system, 
bumped up the price of salt at St. Pauli, believe it or not, from two to 
eight pfennigs the kilogram. 

In 189^, with the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, the North 
Sea and the Baltic were linked, and on that occasion many distin- 
guished personalities, including the Prince Regent of Bavaria and 
others of princely rank, visited our zoo. Frequently my father would 
shout: 'Proppen, let the monkeys out, there's folk want to have a 

Proppen 's real name was Zapf. He had been an old school friend of 
my father's. When grandfather's smoked sturgeon sold well, it used 
to be Proppen and Father who as boys together took the day's takings 
round to the bank. Most of the cash was then of course good solid 
coinage thalers, in fact, each worth about three marks of today's 
currency. As the bag was fairly heavy, Father and Proppen used to 
stick a stout pole through the two handles of the cash-bag and jointly 
shoulder it, one behind the other, carrying the day's takings just as 
the men of Canaan once carried their grapes. Such was the peaceful 
way of life in St. Pauli in those days. 

Proppen had three parts to his employment. He was the firm's 
saddler, he was its upholsterer, and he was its 'maid-of-all-work' in 
the zoo. He made the saddles for the camels, dromedaries and circus 
elephants and he it was who patched together the canvas after the 
great storm which destroyed our first big top. Otherwise, he was al- 
ways busy on the never-ending task of repairing the padding of the 
big closed transport boxes. From morning to night you heard poor 
Proppen's name called upon to 'just fix this* and 'just fix that.' The 
eight-hour day had not yet been invented, and Proppen had a quiver- 
ful of ten to provide for. On the other hand, he had powerful financial 
assistance from our snakes, for there was a chemical works which 
paid good solid cash for the snow white excrement of our reptiles, a 
curious substance, as hard as stone. 

To Father's great mortification, however, Proppen had one serious 
shortcoming: he loved ponies, by which I do not mean diminutive 
horses, but in St. Pauli language certain flat little receptacles made 
specially for workers to slip into their pockets. In those days a pony 
of Kummel or 'Swiss,' which was a green variety of spirits, cost only 
fifteen pfennigs, or about twopence, and as Proppen was by nature of 



a cheerful temperament Father often found him at an establishment 
known as Windy Corner, that is to say, snug in Jan Reimer J s little bar 
three doors down the street, on the other side, instead of at his job 1 

When a consignment of animals fell due, you would hear Father 
shouting out of his office window: * Where's Proppen?' 

* You'll have to dig him out,' would come the answering cry. 

Then you would hear Father's indignant: 'Go and root the scoun- 
drel out!' 

And I would run round to the nearest bar to bring back Hagenbeck's 
leading expert on lining horse-boxes. 

Though my father was kindness itself, he was also a very unbending 
man, and if he thought anybody was going counter to his instructions 
there was the devil to pay. When a dreaded whistle shrilled from be- 
tween his dazzlingly white teeth, it was: Look out! I remember when 
he gave me two little guinea-pigs of my own to look after. Before many 
days passed, going his round of inspection, he halted at my little cage 
and whistled. A moment later I found myself uncomfortably placed 
over his knee. Yet the evening before I had given my guinea-pigs a 
lavish supply of new bedding and food. During the night, however, 
they had eaten up all they had, and now, guinea-pig fashion, were 
piping at the top of their voices, so Father got the idea that they were 
hungry. But anything I could say might just as well have been spoken 
into the wind. However, after that little misunderstanding, he never 
took my trousers down again. 

It was, however, never easy for us children to satisfy the old boy 
completely. He himself had had a hard upbringing, a childhood of 
hard work, and hence he had notions about such matters which in our 
comfortably off, middle-class circumstances seemed a little Spartan. 
On the other hand, though for both Heinrich and me this meant much 
work in the zoo, we never really considered looking after the animals 
hard work. Indeed, it was rather a pleasant and entertaining sort of 

Besides, behind Father's back there was always Mother to temper 
the punishments he ordered such as on the occasion when a certain 
scamp named 'Lorrie' let loose a box of black-beetles in class, or on 
another occasion, when we were supposed to take specimens for 
Nature study, he introduced a monkey which he had secretly taken off 
its chain, thereby not merely hindering studies but in the ensuing 
chase after the interrupter turning upside-down the whole of the St. 
Pauli school which I attended. 



There is one thing for which I am today most grateful to my father, 
and that is for realising at an early date the advantages of schoolboy 
exchanges. He took the initiative by bringing the sons of English busi- 
ness friends into the family. I recall how attractive we found their 
English clothes their stiff bowlers, which we in German called 
'melons,' and their peculiar short- tailed jackets, which we rather dis- 
respectfully called 'bum-freezers.' My giggling sisters used to vie 
with one another just to cross the street with Charly Judge or Reuben 
Carstang in those revealing garments. (Today, Reuben is my oldest 
and best friend, and his name will crop up again and again in the course 
of these reminiscences.) 

My father was a great lover of children, and whenever he felt he 
had time he would have our coachman Jochen harness the big touring 
brake, and off he would go with two dozen nephews, nieces and chil- 
dren of the neighbours, out of town to Alterskrug, where we went 
fishing, or Eppendorf Moor, where there were glorious hunts for 
blindworms, lizards and frogs. After this we would turn in at a coun- 
try inn to be treated by my father to generous hunks of bread-and- 
butter, with lemonade or milk. 

Coachman Jochen had a wonderfully glowing nose, for he too was 
a passionage worshipper of Kiimmel and porter, of which drinks he 
would so regularly partake at every bar round Horsemarket Square* 
that his horse used to pull up at the proper places without being told. 
There was one occasion when the faithful nags were wiser than their 


driver, for, on their way home, they pulled up immediately under 
my father's window dear Jochen was stretched out full length on 
the driving seat, sleeping off his booze. Pursued by appropriate ex- 
pletives, he was sacked on the spot; later, however, towards Christ- 
mas, to be slyly reinstated, for nobody could do Father Christmas as 
well as could Jochen, his enormous red nose coming in just right. 

Christmas was a time which was always heralded by tremendous 
preparations in kitchen, cellar and parlour. Whole casefuls of presents 
had to be got in tubs of fruit, pounds and pounds of smoked sausage 
of all sorts and tobacco and cigars were all trundled in, and innumer- 
able parcels then made up for our coachman and the maids on Christ- 
mas Eve to take round to all our employees and needy folk we knew 
in St. Pauli. 

Christmas was the great time for recitations and other perform- 
ances, and we children were always anxious to have Father's praise, 

* i.e. the Pferdemarkt. Translator. 


On one occasion, I remember, there was a very special item in the 
field of music: my brother Heinrich and my sister Maria were to play 
a piano duet. When the final chord rang out and, full of pride, their 
teacher rose to take her bow, somewhere behind a hoarse voice sud- 
denly broke the festive silence and for a moment brought a flow of 
tears to her eyes by the terrible words: 'You are crazy, my child!' 
It was our parrot 1 

There was always so much food and drink left over from the family 
Christmas that at last the time came when my mother would say, 'Ask 
the office staff to step in ! ' and then our cook and all the maids mixed 
with the gentlemen of the cash register and copying press and danced 
till the floorboards groaned. Unless my memory fails me sadly, girls 
in service at the Hagenbecks' all made good matches. Indeed, some of 
them are to this day to be found scattered around the Stcllingen Zoo 
district, dignified housewives and business men's spouses. 

Whenever my father came home from one of his many journeys 
abroad, he always brought Mother a surprise. I recall clearly how 
once, returning from a profitable trip to Egypt, he staggered into the 
room and groaned: 'I can't think what's the matter, I feel so tight 
here.' Hand pressed tightly to chest, he sank exhausted into a chair. 
In great alarm my poor mother rushed to unbutton his frock-coat. 
When she did so, a small parcel dropped into her hand. It was a little 
gold dromedary, with saddle-bags full of pearls. Now it was Mother's 
turn to flop into a chair, completely taken aback by that costly little 
memento from the land of the Pharaohs. 

In 1 894, when my brother Heinrich was already in the business, my 
sisters and I were still going to school, and with my cousin Paul 
Mehrmann, later our chief clerk, I spent the summer holidays with 
my Uncle Peter, out at Tellingstedt, where he ran both a pottery 
business and a pig-food business. As pet I took with me a young male 
baboon, which Uncle Peter taught all sorts of tricks and antics, and 
what outrageous things he did not think up we young ones did. Soon 
enough that monkey knew how to pull up swedes. He also rode the 
pigs and piglets all round, and he got up to so much mischief that he 
was soon notorious all round the district. Indeed, Wilhelm Busch's 
delightful poem about 'Phipps the Monkey* fits the case to a T, for my 

baboon too, , , 

. . . the worse the antics cited, 

The more the little pet delighted. ' 
What is more, my monkey also ended true to his literary counter- 


part, by buckshot well aimed by Uncle Peter for one day, having 
grown older, Joko lunged out at Uncle and tore his arm so badly that 
for some time after he could not throw pots on his wheel. 

The day of arrival in Hamburg of any new contingent of animals 
or, even more, of a new party of exotic natives was invariably a 
great event for us children, and school work ceased abruptly. Since 
1875 the stream of men and women of distant lands, begun in that 
year with a party of Lapps, never ceased. Most vividly do I recall the 
Somalis, under their chief, Hersy Egeh, whom Joseph Menges brought 
from Abyssinia in 189$. When they arrived, laundry baskets full of 
bread were brought in and boilerfuls of tea were made. It was a lovely 
sight to see our Hamburg cook and the Somali mammas busy with the 
visitors over various coffee-brown children. 

Every day brought fresh excitements. For instance, there was the 
night when I had to hold lighted candles for our lion-tamer, August 
Molker, when he was acting midwife to one of his tigresses. Then 
there was the day when a new-born zebra made its first gawky attempts 
to walk. One day there would be tortoises to unpack, another a baby 
elephant to handle ! It is perhaps not astonishing that all my memories 
of childhood now come to me against a diffused zoological background. 
After all, I first saw daylight in a menagerie and I grew up from infancy 
surrounded by exotic creatures. 

I can still hear our special harpist tinkling away a rhinoceros, who 
plucked away at the same little tune, day in, day out, with his power- 
ful nose-horn, on the iron bars of his cage, ping pang pong pung one 
way, then pung pong pang ping the other. 

In those long ago days before the introduction of quarantine regu- 
lations and strict freight charges for live mementoes from oversea, 
the port of Hamburg was the Tom Tiddler's ground of pet dealers, 
who used to be able to get all manner of monkeys, parrots, snakes and 
other exotic creatures there for a mere song. They kept in close touch 
with shipping schedules and knew what treasures were to be expected 
off every sailing ship or steamer which berthed in the Hamburg docks. 
After making their purchases, they generally went straight to my 
father to offer their goods, though some preferred to try to find a 
customer themselves. 

I have a vivid memory of three of those port dealers in particular. 
These were 'Gutschmidt, whose carroty hair earned him the nick- 
name of the Red Setter, Breitweiser, with the fine nickname of 


Snakenabber, and Rath, whom his rivals called the Pirate because he 
got the better of them. 

In the days when Breitweiser, the Pirate and the Red Setter were 
competing in Hamburg docks, my father once sent me to the house of 
a seaman who was said to have a hyena for sale. I did not find the man 
at home. His buxom wife was up to the elbows in the wash-tub, and 
the kitchen was dark with smoke and steam. 

'And how much do you want for the hyena?' I asked. 

'Pooh, how should I know?' said she. 'My husband never named a 
price for the thing.' 

I offered sixty marks, and a moment later stuffed the striped animal 
into a sack and set off home, to open the bag again in Father's office 
and await with great pride what he would have to say about my 

'Here, what's that you've got there?' 

'The little hyena, Father.' 

'You call that a hyena?' he cried, and his eyes fastened fiercely on 
me over his spectacle rims. 'You numskull, that is an earth-wolf. 
What did you pay for it?' 

'Sixty marks.' 

'Lad,' said he, 'that's far too little. You go straight back and give 
the woman another hundred ! ' 

That was Father all over, and I had no other course but to do as 1 
was told. 

Breitweiser 's missus was an old friend of my wet-nurse's and had 
also done stage business with snakes, which, as his nickname indicated, 
her husband also knew well. Originally, indeed, Breitweiser had been 
a showman himself, after which he had travelled as an animal keeper 
under Richard Sawade, one of the most famous animal trainers of the 
age. Breitweiser had travelled abroad a great deal, largely in the Bal- 
kans and in Russia. One evening I had to go round to his home to fetch 
him out on an urgent errand. A Russian had telegraphed an offer, a 
mixed consignment of polar bears, reindeer, arctic seals and birds, 
the goods to be taken over at once at Nizhni-Novgorod! Russian- 
speaking Breitweiser was the very man for the job. He arrived in 
Nizhni on time, and as reward the man who built the Trans-Siberian 
Railway gave him a gold watch. For this millionaire was incidentally 
the organiser of an industrial exhibition in Nizhni-Novgorod,* which 

* Nizhni (or Lower)-Novgorod, now Gorki, the centre of an important annual trading 
fair lasting many weeks, attended by merchants from all over the world. Translator. 



among other attractions had included a show of the wild animals of 
the Russian Empire. For this the Russians had sent special expeditions 
to the most remote corners of their huge empire to get animals, but 
whereas some had turned up empty-handed, others arrived with 
animals much too late, which had resulted in the desperate telegraphic 
call to Hamburg, the idea being to unload them on Carl Hagenbeck ! 
' At the Nizhni exhibition, Breitweiser found nine huge stags, so- 
called marals,* which a Russian was offering to sell. In the end, 
Breitweiser concluded an agreement by which this Russian was to 
supply my father who agreed by telegram with no fewer than twenty- 
seven marals. Unfortunately, the creatures were never supplied, so 
Breitweiser went to Siberia himself. Here, in the Altai Mountains, he 
came to a new arrangement with a Kirghiz named Essim Khan, and 
himself joined in the hunt ; for it was now mid-winter, and the deep 
snows, which made his return journey difficult, were just what was 
wanted to capture marals. The procedure was simple. The stags were 
cornered in six-foot-deep snow, when it was easy to capture and 
corral them, till they could be dispatched by train. 

But now that the initial Russian supplier saw that Breitweiser was 
getting on well enough without him, he immediately produced the 
twenty-seven marals originally agreed on, so our man now found 
himself with no fewer than sixty-two of these animals to bring back to 
Hamburg, together with seven argalis, nine stcinbocks and a Siberian 
tiger which had also fallen into his hands. The largest of the stags was 
as tall as a high-standing horse and had ninetecn-point antlers. Breit- 
weiser told me that at Omsk he saw a specimen with no less than 
twenty-nine points, but this he was unable to buy. 

For all these giant stags there was a ready market among the princes 
and big hunting landowners of Germany, Austria-Hungary and 
Britain, who bought them to improve the blood of the local stock. 
Subsequently, Father could never get a sufficient number of them to 
satisfy all the demands of the hunting gentry. 

Early in the nineties Fridtjof Nansen's daring thrust towards the 
North Pole directed world attention to arctic regions. The names of 
Nansen and his famous ship, the Fram, or 'Forwards' (now to be seen 
in the Oslo Museum) were on all lips. A year after the safe return of 
the Fram, Salomon AndreVs polar expedition in a balloon the first 
polar flight came to its tragic end, and the whole world talked of 
that daring attempt. My father, who had already succeeded in 

* The Russian name for a species of deer, Cervus claprus. Translator. 



showing Eskimos, Tierra del Fuegans, Australian aborigines, Indians 
and Kalmyks in his shows of 'strange peoples of the world/ now 
exploited the sudden burst of enthusiasm for the cold caps at the two 
poles, and set up a tremendous Polar Panorama on the Heiligengeist 

Panoramas, I should explain, were then a most popular form of 
show for the masses, whose thirst for spectacle had not yet been jaded 
by the cinema. Mammoth backcloths were erected, supported by 
three-dimensional erections in the foreground, to give a panoramic 
picture of great fires, of battlefields, or of shipwrecks. The panorama 
at the Dammtor* showed the Storming of St. Privet, that at the Mil- 
lerntor* the Great Fire of Hamburg in huge lifelike pictures. But a polar 
landscape in natural size, complete with polar bears, seals, guillemots, 
and other birds gulls and cormorants was something that Hamburg 
had never seen. 

'This idea has been realised in striking manner by the famous 
animal trainer Carl Hagenbeck. The triumph of the scenic artist has 
been combined with three-dimensional representation, to create a 
most exciting open-air polar landscape, and for the first time of its 
kind, this panorama has been enriched with live animals moving 
about in complete freedom,' stated the Illustrated Times] corres- 
pondent in 1897, with a full-page photograph of the scene. 

I can still picture those mountains of imitation ice and hear the 
roaring of the bears, the hoarse barking of the seals and the rasping 
cries of the arctic seabirds. 

In the evening that most vivid polar picture was illuminated, with 
the frozen-up Pram in the background, and the folk of Hamburg 
flocked in such numbers to see the panorama (which occupied a space 
of about ten thousand square feet) that Cousin Paul and I often had to 
race round to our nearby 'Zoo* office for a fresh supply of tickets. 

This North Pole show, which also went with great success to the 
Berlin Industrial Exhibition, and later under the title of La Vie au 
Pole Nord to Paris, was the prototype of the later stationary Arctic 
Panorama which we built at Stellingen. By then my father had had this 
show patented at Germany's Imperial Patents Office. He had tried it 
out thoroughly, and improved on it, so that today, executed by master 
hands, it counts as one of the sights of Stellingen. 

All the tremendous life and activity of our zoo on the Neuer 

* Two of Hamburg's city gates. Translator. 
t i.e. the Illustrierte Zeitung. Translator. 



Pferdemarkt ground, with its arrival of exotic peoples, its coming and 
going of animals and the gripping liveliness of its training hall, were 
far too engaging for a young lad who needed still to complete his 
school studies. To tell the truth, I only just scraped through my one- 
year service exam.* But subjects in which I was not particularly bril- 
liant were balanced by knowledge of biology and foreign languages, 
for my English boyhood friends Charly and Reuben had given me an 
excellent pronunciation in that language. 

I was eventually able to put my school-leaving certificate on my 
father's desk at the very moment of his arrival back from a trip to 
London. As reward I was sent on an errand to Paris. Thence, combin- 
ing business with pleasure I was to bring back a hippopotamus, some 
zebras, some antelopes and some wild sheep which Father had just 
purchased. With me went Karl Ross, at the time one of our animal 
trainers. An Alsatian, Ross spoke fluent French. Father warned us to 
take particular care of the hippo. It had already been re-sold to an 
American purchaser. 

I found the little creature, about eight and a half feet long, in an 
outdoor pool at the Jardin des Plantes, the second oldest zoo in 
Europe, for Vienna's Schonbrunn preceded it. Although it had been a 
mild winter that year, the poor animal was unused to such compara- 
tively low temperatures as Paris offered. Hippo was badly chapped, 
with cracks in her skin, into which one could easily stick one's finger. 
To protect those raw places and help heal them, Father had enjoined 
me to keep her well massaged with vaseline. But that was easier said 
than done ! The French had made the cases she and the other animals 
were to travel in rather a tight fit, and we had only just settled our- 
selves down in the straw of the railway box- wagon in which we were 
travelling when a zebra started the fun and began to go mad in his 

I could see that the trouble was definitely the smallness of the box 
in which the poor creature was confined. Fortunately I had with me 
one of those knives which include a saw blade, and, taking it in turns, 
Karl Ross and I sawed away, till we had made a hole big enough for the 
zebra to have its air. The animal was already streaming with sweat, 
but was soon able to stand up again. Now we had to turn to our other 

* An examination in Germany, prior to 1919, which allowed those who passed it to 
Si.Tve only one year's military service. Translator. 



responsibility and pomade our corpulent hippo lady with vaseline. 
This we contrived to do with a couple of sponges tied on a stick, and 
with these we massaged her back as far as we could. She lay quietly, 
but as this made it rather difficult to get at the vast rotundities of her 
bottom, we thought we would cautiously open the sliding door at the 

This was not a very happy thought. We had no sooner raised that 
shutter than the terrified hippo made one great backwards heave, 
and before we had had time clearly to sum up the situation, there were 
two zoological cosmetic experts perched high right up against the 
roof of that box-wagon, on a pile of packing cases, with menacing 
open jaws reaching up towards them. 

So there we were ! Somewhere behind us lay Paris. In front, was 
an enormous salad bowl of a mouth. And no handy communication 
cord within reach ! The colossus of the river now got her front hooves 
up on the lower stage of our piled boxes and stared menacingly at us, 
a little closer still, and flapping her ears. Not a little alarmed, we drew 
back as far as we could, our heads bumping against the roof. 

'We can't stay up here all the way to Hamburg! 1 I heard my com- 
panion shout above the din of the goods train, while for a change our 
feminine travelling companion proceeded to trample our provision 
basket to pulp. Fortunately, I now found that I was just able to reach 
one of the planks which we had torn off the zebra's box, and with this 
I fetched the lady such a resounding crack on her rather spatulate nose 
that she actually blinked in surprise, swung round, and took swift 
refuge in her box, where with hoarse breath she flopped on to her 
belly. With the agility of monkeys, we tumbled down again, dropped 
the door into position, and snatched up the brandy flask, which for- 
tunately the monster had not touched. The situation had changed. 
Our worries were all over. We now had one female hippopotamus 
about which we did not care very much, and, seeing her warmly 
tucked in her straw, we allowed her to travel the rest of the way to 
Hamburg unsalved. 

To round this story off, I must leap forty years. In the zoo at Cin- 
cinnati in the State of Ohio the good hippo grew to a colossal size and 
acquired the convenient name of Zeekoe. Then, passing on, she was 
sold to the great Chicago Field Museum. And the day came when 
Simons, the director of this, proudly showed me a tremendous 
African diorama in which what did I see but my enormous hippo once 
again gaping at me with menacing jaws, only this time stuffed. 



'That,' said he, 'is Zeekoe, and it's the largest hippo I ever saw,' 
and he pointed to my gentle travelling partner. 

'Yes, and I may tell you that she once gave me the largest fright I 
ever had in my life,' was my response, and of course I told the story. 
That was manna to the pressman in attendance on us. He blew up the 
story well, and for some time to come the rise in attendance at that 
museum was remarkable ! 

In 1 899 I was to find how true was the German saying 'Lehrjahre sind 
keine Henenjahre 'the years of learning are no gay time.' For, 
leaving school, I was articled to a Hamburg importer who dealt in 
pork, lard and oils. If ever there was a dull job, that was it! And all 
the time that I was carrying out my greasy little duties the most bizarre 
kaleidoscope of strange animals and strange peoples was spinning 
round our ground in the Neuer Pferdemarkt field. I cannot tell you 
how I leapt for joy when, after thirty months and one week of that, 
Father freed me from the company of dead swine. There was to be a 
World Exhibition at Buffalo in North America, and I was to accom- 
pany him there ! 

There at last was the jetty at Hoboken, and there, bobbing up and 
down, was the bowler of Doc Colvin, our representative at the time 
in New York. Good homely Hamburg dialect billowed across the 
narrowing gap of water to us for show folk were at that time largely 
Hamburg folk, who over in America spoke a delightful hotchpotch of 
their own Low German and English. After a meal, Doc Colvin got 
down to the principal business, the new price list for the Siberian 
animals which had only just arrived at Stellingen, and the market for 
those diminutive wild horses, the small primitive Siberian ponies,* 
was discussed. Father had been the first to import these into Germany. 

Our travellers, Grieger and Wache, had foot-slogged about eighteen 
hundred miles from Inner Mongolia to the nearest Russian railway 
station, and we had no fewer than twenty-eight specimens of those rare 
primitive horses, or rather of foals of the species, which had travelled 
all this long way with their foster-mothers. 

Now, in America, I really was to be astonished, for I found that my 
dear old father knew all the North American zoos and their managers 
inside out ! At once we set out on a round tour, visiting all the more 
important menageries and road circuses of the New World, a good 
schooling, of which all possible use was made. It was most exciting 
whenever Father came on an elephant or a chimpanzee which had first 

* Equus Przewalski. Translator. 



learned its tricks in 1 890 under him in our Neuer Pferdemarkt circus, 
and more often than not the delight was mutual. 

But it was in the end not the Buffalo World Exhibition but Barnum 
and Bailey's impressive show which made the greatest impression on 
me. Now that Phineas T. Barnum was dead, it was James H. Bailey 
who managed what was then the biggest such concern in the world. 
Bailey was of medium height and slender build, invariably dressed in 
a long, old-fashioned frock-coat, with a hat on his head such as I have 
seen on no other. It was a cross between a bowler and a topper, made 
for him alone. Mr. Bailey, long since a dollar multi-millionaire, took 
us out with him to see his huge winter residence at Bridgeport, in 
Connecticut, and finally insisted on our staying to lunch. 

I was delighted, and licked my lips in anticipation, for all my life I 
have loved a good table. Father accepted the invitation, I think with 
expectation equal to my own. Thereupon without more ado our host 
took us to the station buffet in the Bridgeport waiting-room and 
ordered himself a glass of milk and a slice of apple tart. And what 
would we have? We modestly elected to take the same as Mr. Bailey. 
From then on, whenever I think of an American millionaire lunching, 
I do not see what most people do ! 

But what our host later served us up as a showmanship meal in his 
gigantic tent, which would seat six thousand persons, with its three 
rings and two stages, was as grandiloquent as his lunch was poor. It 
was all-over American. If one did not like what was going on in one 
ring, one looked at another, and if that did not suit one could just 
look up at the trapeze and the tight-rope folk high above. However, 
what I think interested me most were the technicalities of organisation 
of the high-speed transport of so big a concern. Father too had once 
had a circus on the road, but after much nervous fret he had sold this 
round about 1889. Even now he repeated what he had so often im- 
pressed on me : 'No, my lad, you are not going to be one of those 
caravan folk.' But in life, as the reader will see for himself, I was 
destined to pay little heed to this well-intentioned injunction. 

Animals which in Nature never meet : a performing group bringing 
together polar bears, lions and brown_ bears 

Left: Black Eagle, Sioux Chief, in full war paint 

Right: Somali Prince Hersy Egeh, whose son attended our 
Stellingen primary school 


WE GOT back to Hamburg on October 3rd, just in time for my 
mother's birthday. The very same day I became a member of Father's 
firm, in which my brother Heinrich had for years been the right hand. 
It was to be my job to keep the 'in* and 'out* ledgers in copperplate 
handwriting.* But when, freshly equipped as I was with all manner of 
business knowledge, I ran through the firm's books I soon established 
that Father had often paid more tax than he need. I pointed this out to 
him. And that was as far as I got. With fierce eyes he conned me over 
the top of his spectacles. 'Lorrie,' he said sternly, 'bear in mind that 
the country must have taxes; without revenue it cannot go on! 1 

Short trips to neighbouring European countries now became so 
frequent a necessity that today I simply could not say either how often, 
or exactly when, I visited London, Paris, Antwerp, Budapest or 
Copenhagen. My clearest memory, I think, is of the occasion when I 
first accompanied Father to Woburn Abbey in England, where the 
Duke of Bedford showed us his wonderful private zoo. What a lovely 
sight that was! Zebra, elk, all sorts of antelope, the rarest of 
pheasants, a large herd of fallow deer, roe deer, and wild birds from 
all parts of the world wandered at liberty over that well-cared-for 
English landscape. At Woburn Abbey, the Duke could well be proud 
of having large herds of bison, yaks, ostriches and even giraffes. Alas, 
though, that is all a picture of the past, for during the first world war 
many of the animals were slaughtered and the meat distributed to the 
hungry local population. Among the victims were elands weighing 
more than a ton. Fortunately, the famous P&re David deer were kept, 
and perhaps for the benefit of those of my readers who have not been 
so interested in questions of zoology as I have, I may tell their fascina- 
ting story. 

Sze pu-shiang, the Chinese called these animals of the great swamps. 
The meaning of the name is curious : none of four I It records the curious 

* In those days a special value was attached to that calligraphic aspect of the books. 
When I go through my office today and see the colourful card indexes and electric 
comptometers, it is not without emotion that I think back at our meritorious ancient 
day book, which recognised only money received and money paid out. 


3 AML 


fact that these deer have cloven hooves like reindeer, tails like 
donkeys, the gait of cattle, and the bent-back antlers of the stag. They 
were first discovered by the Jesuit Father David, a great connoisseur 
of wild animal life. But not at large they were inside the carefully 
guarded walls of the secret Imperial Palace of Peking. In due course, 
however, the French Ambassador succeeded in sending to France 
some specimens of these animals almost extinct in wild life. The first 
of them reached Paris in 1866, to be officially named, in honour of 
the man who discovered them, the Pere David deer. 

Later, during the Boxer uprising, it proved impossible to protect 
the walls of the so-called Forbidden City against the soldiery, and 
these Milu stags, as they were also called, found their way into the 
cooking pots of the troops encamped there. Later there took place 
something nobody had anticipated: from a cow belonging to the 
Duke of Bedford and a stag bred by ourselves, a fine European herd of 
them was ultimately reared, one specimen of which was being shown 
in our Stellingen Animal Park before the first world war. 

Today these Pere David deer have become expensive zoological 
rarities, which may puzzle the layman who is ignorant of the facts of 
their origin. When I last visited Woburn Abbey (in 19^1), I counted 
some two hundred and fifty specimens, and in 19^0 the first calf of 
this species, which once upon a time was protected from alien eyes in 
Peking by Tatar imperial guards, was calved in the New World, in the 
Bronx Park in New York. 

Soon after my visit to Woburn I took a transport of animals by sea 
from Liibeck to what was then Imperial Russia. The animals were for 
the zoos of Petersburg today Leningrad and Moscow. In that vast 
empire there were at the time only four rather small zoos, apart from 
the huge animal preserve known as Askania-Nova in the Crimea, 
which belonged to the landowner Friedrich Faltz-Fein, and there were 
to be seen examples of Przewalski's horse, zebras and other animals of 
the steppes living in comparative freedom. In Moscow I was taken by 
an elderly and white-haired inspector to see two huge bull elephants 
which had lived there a good fifty years. He told me that they had 
been the present of an Indian prince to the Tsar, and had made the 
long journey from India to Moscow on foot, escorted by a squadron 
of Cossack cavalry. 

I should now explain that in the elephant the Indians honour the 
beast ridden by their supreme deities. Sanskrit, the ancient Indian 
language of scholars, contains hundreds of honorific terms for this, 



the most powerful animal of our age. In particular, the light-skinned, 
so-called 'white elephants' enjoy the greatest honour in India as 
temple beasts. Thus those two Moscow bull elephants were not 
merely a zoological enrichment of the menagerie of a Tsar, but, more 
profoundly, a diplomatic gesture of friendship for the man *vho was 
then the 'ruler of all the Russias.' 

It has now been established that the first Indian elephant to reach 
present-day Germany came in similar fashion. It was the elephant 
known as Abulabas, foot-slogging coronation present of Caliph Harun 
al-Rashid of Baghdad to the Emperor Charlemagne. Abulabas trod 
every inch of the way from India to the royal city of Aachen, reaching 
that town on June 2oth, 80 2, a year and a half after the actual corona- 
tion, and exciting tremendous interest. 

This Indian custom has been revived in recent times. In 1949, 
Pandit Nehru sent an elephant named Indira as a 'messenger of good- 
will' from New Delhi to Tokyo. The letter accompanying it ran : 

'Dear Children, 

'I am very glad to be sending you one of our elephants, as you 
wished. It is a good elephant, very well brought up, and, so I am 
told, endowed with all the good virtues. Please do not treat it as a 
present from me, but as one from the children of India to the 
children of Japan. 

'Children resemble each other in many ways everywhere in the 
world. It is only when you begin to grow up that you get different 
opinions. Unhappily, when that happens, you often come into 

'We must put an end to these clashes between grown-ups. It is 
my hope that, when they are older, the children of India and Japan 
will not serve only their own countries, but also the cause of peace 
and co-operation in the whole of Asia and the world. So you must 
see in this elephant called Indira a messenger of the love and good- 
will of the children of India. 

'Elephants are noble animals, and are much beloved in India. 
They set India a very good example. They are brave, patient, strong 
and yet gentle. I hope that we shall all come to be like that.' 

This, word for word, was the message of the Indian Prime Minister. 
Three years later, the elephant Shanti reached the Berlin Zoo on a 
similar mission. But that young Madame Elephant was spared the 
exertions of her predecessor, Abulabas. The firm of Carl Hagenbeck 


bought her a ship's passage, and also made sure that she got on the 
right train at Hamburg. 

For years my father made vain efforts to secure a superficially large 
ground-site in Hamburg itself. The Neuer Pferdemarkt animal park 
had become too small for the steadily augmenting traffic in large 
animals. At the same time, Father had for years had in a drawer of his 
desk plans for a completely new style free zoo. He was in fact doing all 
he could to realise that project. Suddenly, his luck turned, and on 
what was then Prussian territory, in the parish of Stellingen, just out- 
side the city gates of Hamburg, he acquired a suitable property. Now 
his coach was always driving out of town, to direct the first steps in the 
necessary work on the new site. 

Soon after this we ourselves moved out, taking up residence in the 
old country-style house which stood on our new estate, and in due 
course a large part of our menagerie was also moved out. All round us 
we now saw armies of navvies, landscape gardeners and architects all 
busy to realise what since 1 896 had been slumbering among Father's 
private papers as Imperial Patent No. 91,492, a document furnished 
with all the necessary seals. Put succinctly, what Father wanted to do 
was to keep all his animals in natural surroundings, with no cages at 
all, in a well-ordered park. 

His desires were translated into artistic reality by a Swiss sculptor 
who became a friend of the family. This was Urs Eggenschwyler, who 
got busy with a team of Hamburg stonemasons and carpenters. He was 
a giant of a man, with the strength of a bear. He wore an unkempt full 
beard and was at the same time artist, animal lover and a passionate 
handicraftsman, possessed with his ideas. In the sandpits and stone 
quarries of the district he loved demonstrating to the men how rock 
formations lay in strata. But in addition to these qualities, he had real 
Swiss stubbornness, with the result that he was often at loggerheads 
with my father, who had the same quality, derived in his case from 
Hanseatic ancestry. But by dint of stubborn debating, the two always 
came to agree in the end, and after their tiffs would heap presents on 
one another ! 

In these years the man on whom my father relied most was un- 
questionably my brother Heinrich. In any case, on October ist, 1902, 
I had to go up as so-called 'volunteer* for one year's military service, 
and in the Altona barrack square of the Count Bose Infantry Regiment 



No. 31, to the greater glory of Prussia, studied the art of putting my 
right hand smartly to the peak of my cap. That lasted ten weeks, after 
which the M.O. flung me out because of a middle ear inflammation, 
so that, without a hint of fame, I found myself all at once transferred 
to the non-combatant reserve. As in the eyes of 'the boss* I was still 
an enthusiastic animal man, I was able to hang up my uniform without 
a trace of regret and in compensation with great pleasure packed pith 
helmet, Kodak and khaki drill kit and went on my first trip to India, 
to bring back a consignment of elephants. 

It is lovely today to look back on that journey, the most carefree I 
ever made. I went to India, of course, by sea. The responsibility for all 
arrangements still rested on the shoulders of our veteran, experienced 
Indian representative Jiirgen Johannsen. Among our fellow passengers 
on the s.s. Hamburg were a number of officers' families of the colony 
which Germany then still possessed at Tsingtao,* and I had a glorious 
field for flirtation with a number of charming daughters without having 
to beg Papa's permission first. There were magnificent fancy-dress 
parties, games of all sorts and evenings given up to dancing, and 
Father had not been at all mean about expenses. He had indeed made 
only one stipulation that I was to record every single penny I spent. 
That was fundamental in his eyes. A man who, like himself, had had 
to earn every extra penny in his own young days (even by such means 
as straightening out old nails) was certainly going to train his own sons 
in being thrifty, even though he was now well off. 

One party on board I remember with special vividness. In considera- 
tion of a good tip, one of the stewards lent me his uniform, and I had 
a fine game with it. First, I waited on the captain's table, and did it 
with great style, till I held an hors-d'oeuvre dish so high that he could 
not reach it. Then he had something quite strong to say about my 
clumsiness and, glaring up at me, noticed what a sea-change had 
come to his steward ! 

That was my initial rehearsal. For my object was to teach certain 
snobbish young ladies a lesson, and I was merely trying out my dis- 
guise on the captain. On board we had one family whose daughters 
bore themselves with the utmost arrogance. I had noticed that with 
their wine these young ladies regularly drank a bottle of mineral 
water, and that put a very naughty idea into my head. With serious 
mien, I took the orders for drinks. And when they gave their 

* Tsingtao leased to Germany with Kiaochow in 1 898, restored to China in 1922. 



standardised order, I brought them a little concoction I had specially 
prepared. Without a trace of suspicion they mixed the contents of the 
bottle as usual with their red wine, and drank. Results were not long 
coming. I think they had rather an uneasy evening. If either of them 
should ever read these lines, will she, even at this late hour, accept my 
apologies for the brusqueness of the lesson ? 

As ship's factor, animal trainer and plantation owner, Uncle John 
a half-brother of my father's had made good in Colombo. Now, every 
evening we sat on the veranda of his bungalow, 'The Lawn/ chatting 
about Hamburg, while tens of thousands of fireflies flitted through the 
warm air, and my glance kept stealing behind the house to the large 
swimming-pool, framed in a fairy-tale jungle setting. The sounds of 
the tropical night and the moon shining from behind the exotic out- 
line of the palm trees together combined in a loveliness I had never 
known. While Johannsen went on to Calcutta in the Hamburg, Uncle 
John showed me Ceylon. 

My first railway trip to Kandy was something to remember. While 
the train climbed the hairpin bends of the track higher and higher 
into the mountains, dazzling flashes of summer lightning lit up the 
astonishing landscape beneath us. And, the moment we arrived at 
Kandy, we were the centre of a great crowd of Singhalese, whom 
years before Uncle John had engaged for one of our great shows. These 
native folk were delighted to see us again, and I never appeared in the 
streets of Kandy without being followed by twenty or thirty of them, 
jabbering and gesticulating delightedly, making of me a sort of one- 
man 'exotic panorama 1 for friends, neighbours and the Ceylonese 
morld generally. They were most insistent about one thing: they 
wanted me to take them on another trip to Germany. 

From the veranda of our hotel we had a view over the magnifi- 
cently situated Lake Kandy, on the shores of which, among other 
things, I had an opportunity of observing that fascinating fish, the 
climbing perch. The temple in which one of the teeth of Buddha is 
preserved made a tremendous impression on me. The outside walls 
are ornate with giant representations of great simplicity, but very 
convincing for the natives. They depict the tortures which after death 
sinners undergo in expiation of their misdeeds on earth. 

Our next stop was Calcutta. Johannsen was to await me there. But 
when I arrived I could see no Johannsen in the throngs on the quay- 
side. I was pressing forward into the babel of incomprehensible sounds, 
completely lost, when suddenly a black-bearded Indian wriggled 



through the crowd like a weasel, his blue eyes fastened on me. Why, 
but it was Kudratl Kudrat was our elephant transporter, who had 
travelled to Hamburg with many a load of animals for us, and knew 
me well. He pressed into my hand a letter from Johannsen, from 
which I learned that that worthy had gone to the elephant market at 
Sonpur. So Kudrat and I decided to go straight to the railway station. 
Reaching Palezaghat, I heard the cry: 'Ail change, 1 for to reach the 
railway station we had to cross the river. 

We crossed the Ganges in a diminutive river steamer. Near the 
paddle-wheels I noticed natives with long bamboo poles, which they 
were poking into the water. When I went across to see what this was 
all about, to my horror I saw that they were poking human corpses out 
of the way of the steamer's paddle-wheels. The swollen bodies were 
those of people who had died and been thrown into the holy river 
somewhere upstream, a form of burial, for the great stream would 
take them, as Indian beliefs demanded, down to Nirvana. 

At the terminal railway station, Digha-Ghat, my faithful guide 
Kudrat and I were again met by another Indian, who had a two- 
wheeled cart, and in this I was taken to Sonpur, where Johannsen and 
I found ourselves the only Europeans among many thousands of 
natives. There was a religious festival going on, all somehow con- 
nected with the great elephant fair. We bought ourselves a couple of 
blankets and some household requirements for our tent. Johannsen 
was in a rather morose mood, as he was suffering from stomach cramps, 
so I soon decided to take charge of the cooking myself. 

Throughout the night the gongs of the priests rang out. They were, 
so far, like wonderful bells. But when the next night came and they 
still did not cease, I did not find either their sound or the singsong 
chanting of the priests at all so romantic. Indeed, I now felt very 
sorry for Johannsen, who regularly cursed and complained in his 
broad dialect that before all this was over the 'divvel' would have the 
best of us, and no 'guid Chreestian' could possibly sleep with that 
unholy din going on. 

There were soon literally hundreds of elephants up for sale. They 
were mainly tame animals, merely tethered by one fore and one hind 
leg between a couple of trees, but there were those which were still 
not broken in, and these were firmly lashed to really powerful trees 
with cables as thick as a man's arm. Day after day fresh herds of ten to 
fifteen elephants each came in. They all swam to the fairground across 
the Ganges, together with their mahouts. The young animals as far as 



possible contrived to cling to their mothers' backs. Many times I saw 
the mothers holding the babies with their trunks or pushing them on 
in front of themselves. 

One day, crossing the river, a large elephant and its mahout were 
torn off their feet by the powerful current and swept up against the 
massive stone columns of the railway bridge. The mahout must have 
been stunned by the shock, for he pitched helplessly into the water. 
But though it would have been an easy enough matter to put out a boat 
from the shore to save the unconscious man from being swept away 
by the current, not a single one of his fellow countrymen made any 
attempt to do this, and the Ganges bore the man away to a Heaven 
which would certainly at least be better than what he had known on 

One has to have technical knowledge to go buying elephants, and 
Johannsen happened to be fitted with real 'elephant sense/ Another 
factor was that we often enough had to deal with a whole string of 
owners who all had some sort of 'mortgage* on the animal. Whenever 
we did conclude a purchase we would repair to the tent of the latest 
mortgagor, and the Indians would begin testing every rupee either 
with their teeth or by tossing it up high, to judge of the ring when it 
fell, and when one had to pay out a price of some two thousand 
rupees this business could take hours. But in India time is of no great 
importance. Only if an elephant broke loose would the owners show 
any tendency to 'look sharp,' but then the whole gang of claimants 
would be off, with shrill cries, to get their 'property' back. 

In the end, during this particular year's fair, over eight hundred 
elephants passed through Sonpur market, a traffic which was of course 
not without its 'incidents.' One night a regular monster of a beast 
broke loose, a male tusker it was too for there are also, of course, 
the mukna elephants, which have no tusks. This fellow tore like an ex- 
press locomotive across the few yards which separated it from our 
tent, plucking the tent pegs out of the ground so that the thing 
collapsed on us. The elephants we had already bought set up an excited 
trumpeting. We were out of our tent in no time, but the old bull was 
already well away over the hills. 

All round us were encamped upper-caste Indians, accompanied by 
numerous servants. When any newcomer arrived, his servants took 
over the rectangular space hired from the market manager, clearing 



away tree stumps and refuse, moistening the hard ground with Ganges 
water and sweeping it smooth. Immediately the blazing sun dried it 
and turned the space to a hard floor. On this a tent was next erected, 
and the ground covered with magnificent carpets and rugs. A low wall 
marked the boundaries between one of these family camping grounds 
and another. They were in gay array all round our encampment. But 
I was still such a greenhorn that I never realised that it was a great 
insult to an Indian to go across his ground there were no set roads 
and thus, as I went my ways to and fro, I unwittingly outraged one 
party after another, earning savage looks and muttered curses. At last I 
actually saw some Indians get to their feet at once and go away from 
the place. 

A further stupidity followed. I was such a simpleton that I still took 
all Indians for poor men, so when I saw that I had caused offence I at 
once tried to put things right by offering a tip. This was refused with 
great indignation, and it was a very good thing when Johannsen ex- 
plained to me that merely to tread, even to cast one's shadow over 
ground, if one was unclean that is to say either of a lower caste or 
an unbeliever sullied the ground of a caste-conscious Indian, and he 
properly had no other course but to abandon it. 

While Johannsen sat in our tent and perspiringly pursued his end- 
less dealing with the elephant owners, I wandered at leisure to and 
fro through the market, ever more thirsty for impressions. 'Kabr da 
Sahib! 3 came a cry 'Look out, sir! 1 I pressed back into the dense 
wall of sightseers, through which a powerful elephant was striding. 
It was a bull. Never had I seen an animal in such heavy chains. From 
the powerful tusks to the front legs, from front legs to hind legs, and 
back again from hind legs to tusks were really heavy chains, which 
rattled horribly to the tread of the elephant's huge feet. On the 
animal's neck sat its mahout. On either side ran a man armed with a 
long spiked pole. 

Some hours later I suddenly heard a great shouting. In a second, all 
the mahouts standing near me were on the backs of their own ele- 
phants. Something must have happened. Looking in the direction of 
the shouts, I now saw a human body, which must somehow have been 
tossed into the air, falling to earth again. A moment later, sprawled 
out on the scene of this unhappy incident I saw a gruesome sight. That 
same bull elephant had just seized his mahout in his trunk, tossed him 
into the air, then pinned him to the ground with his long tusks. 
Immediately, the savage animal was surrounded by working elephants 


which had hurried to the spot, and under the protection ot those 
powerful assistants the rebel was chained again. No formalities fol- 
lowed, no doctor came, no death certificate was made out. The dead 
body was merely put on a stretcher and removed. When soon after I 
passed the spot, a new mahout was standing passively in front of the 
same elephant, the tusks of which were still red with blood, and 
giving the animal its ration of fodder. 

But how does a mahout first chain an elephant is the question. This 
was an art which I had opportunities of witnessing both here in Son- 
pur and elsewhere in India on many occasions. A freshly caught ele- 
phant quite naturally opposes any touch of the human hand. It is out 
of the question to get up on to the back of such an animal, for the 
elephant knows very well what that is all about, and at amazing speed 
will twist this way and that to prevent it happening. For this reason, 
the only thing a mahout can do is get straight on to the elephant's 
neck. But how is he to do even that? 

The first thing is to teach the captured elephant to lie down when 
told to do so, and to get up again when told. This lesson is achieved by 
lowering a saddle-bag arrangement on to its back from a tree-top. 
This has a heavy weight in it. When at last the elephant gives way and 
settles down, its mahout yells the command for 'Lie down' and at the 
same time feeds the animal some paddy, or unhusked rice, well tied 
up in a bundle of rice straw. 

As soon as an elephant has learned this first lesson, the mahout's 
next job is to get close to him. It is most inadvisable to try to do this 
from the front, as the elephant immediately fights back with its tusks, 
its trunk and its fore legs. So now with the help of working ele- 
phants a rope is brought across the restive pupil and fastened down 
to the ground then another across the neck. While other men hang 
like grim death on to the irons on each leg of the elephant, the 
mahout, nimble as a monkey, springs at last to straddle the animal's 

In a flash the elephant is on its feet, intent on throwing off the 
weight. But now he is given no rest. He is marched round and round 
slowly between two working elephants as guards, and this is continued 
till he learns to turn to left or right, according to which ear the 
mahout tickles with his big toe. 

The methods of training differ in detail in Ceylon, Sumatra, Assam 
and Burma, and so of course do the commands. But everywhere the 
drivers are the same, whether we know them as mahouts, oozies or 



kornaks. A well- trained elephant has to know at least a dozen different 
commands. There are elephants who know twice as many as this, and 
they are spoken of with enormous respect. 

Newly caught elephants cannot stand the smell of Europeans. When 
at Sonpur I went too near a wild elephant, he suddenly began to flay 
the earth with his trunk, as if to cry: 'Now, this is the limit!' This 
earth-slapping with the loose trunk sounded like somebody swinging 
an end of rubber hose against the sun-baked ground, but a moment 
later this young bull had tucked his trunk up high again and then, 
head down, he charged violently towards me until, twanging like 
violin strings, his leg chains pulled him up short. 

At last, Johannsen had bought all he wanted. We dismantled camp, 
loaded everything on a number of working elephants and took our 
departure. In front went the elephant leader, a tame animal, with me 
riding behind his mahout. Next came the smaller ones, to set the pace, 
and the procession was brought up by Johannsen on No. 8, to see that 
nothing was missing. Our road led through a number of shallow rivers, 
at each of which we halted, to give the animals an opportunity to 
bathe, a pleasure in which they all shared most readily. 

While the larger ones were often satisfied, after a long drink, with 
giving themselves a shower with their trunks, the young elephants 
tumbled in like excited children, pushing each other under, squirting 
water over each other and gambolling about so merrily that we often 
roared with laughter. One of the mahouts dived in once with his 
elephant and had a fine game, seeing who could remain longest under 
water. Of course the elephant won, holding his trunk above water 
like a schnorkel tube on a submarine. But when the mahout spotted 
the trick and held the trunk down, it turned out that the elephant 
could not hold his breath any longer than his mahout could. 

We continued our journey through India. The sun blazed down, till 
as we marched, each day, the elephants would in the end stick their 
trunks into their mouths, to moisten them with their own spittle. 
That was a clear sign that they were beginning to suffer from the sun, 
and must be got to water as soon as possible. 

o r 

The sand in a river bed which we crossed glittered and shone in 
the sunshine. 'Gold dust,' said Johannsen, and while in the terrible 
heat I swayed to and fro on my elephant I dreamed of machines which 
might, as I thought, bore deep into that soil and gather in the gold. 
Prophetic dream! Soon after this I had an opportunity of making 
numerous if unlawful borings in India. But what I bored was not the 



ground, for gold. In the good sweat of my own brow, I bored the good 
teak floors of the Indian railway boxes allotted us. I bored holes 
through which to pass the ropes with which, painful yard by yard, we 
dragged the foot-bonds of those elephants, so unwilling to enter the 
travelling homes prepared for them. Once we did get an elephant in, 
we quickly passed the rope under the wagon and fastened it firmly. 
By the time that they were all in, my hands were nicely blistered, and 
there was nothing I so hated the sight of as a hand drill and bit. 

Arriving at Calcutta- Alipore, we camped near the local zoo, one 
of the few in the world which knows no coal bills. In the winter 
months, it is true, they do say the mornings strike a little cool, 
according to Indian standards. But their remedy for this is to hang 
some rush mats outside the animal stalls ! 

Once here, our tent was soon surrounded by native animal trainers, 
who all knew Johannsen. After we had loaded our animals aboard, I 
thought I was going to have the pleasure of going up the Brahmaputra 
with a native crocodile hunter, for we had a commission to fulfil for 
an American museum, which wanted two giant gavias specimens of 
a large sort of pointed-nosed crocodile which often reaches the length 
of thirty or more feet. 

But then came a telegraph boy! It was Father, cabling from Stel- 
lingen : 'Load consignment at once on s.s. Ehrenfeld, remainder taken over 
by Walter Ebert arriving Calcutta fortnight later. 1 When I read that I 
howled like a moony dog. It was to be thirty years before I ever saw 
India again. 

However, there was little time to be spent bewailing my bad luck. 
The Ehrenfeld was to arrive the very next evening, and we were going 
to have our hands full if we were to get our animals on board. Not that 
the black panthers, the gayals, the antelopes or the cranes presented 
much difficulty, but those elephants made up for it. This was their 
first sea journey and for me the first transport for which I was 
personally responsible. Johannsen was to stay with the rest of the 
elephants. To help me I had after all got experienced Kudrat and his 
one-eyed colleague Suku. 

At Calcutta there were no enormous crates for loading, such as we 
had at Hamburg. Each animal had to be heaved on board in a canvas 
sling, improvised simply by passing a big tarpaulin under the animal's 
belly. This would be gripped by the crane and swung into the air, to 
the din of a terrible trumpeting, and the stuff which those anxiety- 



ridden beasts cast away from their bodies as ballast when they first 
found themselves airborne was no joke. 

Among our purchases there was also a large female elephant bought 
from the Calcutta Zoo. The curator of this warranted the dear 
creature's benignity, but we were a bit suspicious, because we had 
noticed that the keepers did not seem to show any particular grief at 
losing her. Indeed, it was something much more like great relief 
which seemed to ooze out of every pore of their being. 

'You keep your weather eye open, Lorenz,' said Johannsen. 'That 
old dear has a nasty look in her eye.' 

At that very instant the good lady was swung up into the air, but 
before the crane had deposited her on deck her neck-rope had slipped 
loose. In a flash I had slipped the loose end of the rope through a deck 
ring and tied a couple of tight hitches in it. And not a second too soon ! 
She was scarcely on her feet when that sling came flying in rags past 
our heads, and the next thing I was to see was that trunk waving 
ominously as its owner rushed at me. Like greased lightning I flew 
away up that deck ! Thank heavens, my rope held, and then, with the 
aid of some working elephants, Kudrat succeeded in chaining the 
termagant to her allotted portion of deck. 

As the steamer cast off, Johannsen ashore merrily waved greetings 
to Hamburg. On this voyage there was no thought of fancy-dress 
antics or dances. I was the only passenger, and I had to share my cabin 
with a small orang-utan, which in Calcutta had been fed exclusively 
on bananas. Now, bananas are no doubt very healthy things, but a diet 
of nothing but bananas can give even an orang-utan the pip. Not one 
did he even touch while he was with me. On the other hand, my pea 
soup or bean soup with bacon delighted his heart. And when one day 
there was spotted Dick for dinner, my monkey beat all the ship's 
records, and from then on the crew all knew him as 'old Plum- 
duffer.' The name stuck till he reached Hamburg complete with 
wonderful biceps and a regular paunch. Not that the biceps came from 
plum duff consumed. He got them by tearing and breaking up every- 
thing that was not snugly put away or solidly nailed to the deck. 
When on one occasion in the early days I left him locked in my cabin, 
he exercised his exploratory genius on the lockers, and had a grand 
time tearing everything up, to crown which he poured the contents 
of the paraffin lamp over the heap of debris. What in fact Plum-duffer 
craved was company, and eventually I secured this for him in the shape 
of two gay little rhesus monkeys, which I introduced to him as play- 



mates. Thereafter I had no trouble: the three bounded all over the 
ship together, to the delight of the men. 

But the captain grumbled. 'When we draw in to Hamburg, you'll 
never catch them,' he said pessimistically. We bet a bottle of cham- 
pagne on it. What is more, I undertook to have them in charge within 
a couple of hours. 

With a disbelieving laugh, the captain turned in for forty winks. 
One of the monkeys was having a nice time on the upper deck, where 
the officer of the watch was feeding sweetmeats to it, trying to catch 
it, but the moment he made an attempt off went that monkey up the 
rope which controlled the ship's siren. In the same instant that instru- 
ment blew loud and long, breaking the midday stillness of the Indian 
Ocean. AH hands on deck! What the captain was bellowing was largely 
drowned by the siren. There was, however, no doubt about what he 
meant, and all hands set to work to try to catch the animals. The clock 
stood at one forty-five when (rather timidly, I must admit) I pointed 
out to the captain that after all it was I who had caught them, and 
fifteen minutes before time was up, too 1 I did it with a trap baited 
with bananas. His anger subsided at once, and with a laugh he forked 
out to pay his bottle of champagne bet. 

Towards the end of that journey the Ehrenfeld was already steaming 
into the Hamburg Canal a small elephant suddenly went down with 
constipation. All the cures put together which worked with horses 
proved useless. Then I suddenly recalled the remarkable avalanche 
which had fallen from that big Calcutta Zoo dame elephant when we 
hoisted her aloft, so I at once had a sling rigged. The donkey engine 
heaved the constipated elephant a foot or so off the deck, while both 
my Indians belaboured it with split bamboo sticks. I should add that 
such a beating is hardly felt at all by an elephant, but, combined with 
suspension above terra or deck firma, this tickling sensation had 
the desired effect. In fear and trembling that elephant emptied itself at 
top speed and in colossal amounts. 

I was much relieved by the happy issue of my improvised cure. Re- 
lieved of its internal pressure, my Jumbo immediately regained his 
appetite, and this I utilised to get his halter on. Towards twelve I 
finished off the cure with a large tub of lukewarm water, into which I 
put a bottle of rum and an unbelievable quantity of sugar. With eyes 
streaming with tears of laughter the crew crowded round to see 
Jumbo take his grog. 

It was December 2 3rd when the first consignment of big game 


which I had handled reached Hamburg docks in good condition, and it 
was good to have a word of praise from my father. The old boy had 
just come back from America, where he had been making his arrange- 
ments for participation in the big world exhibition at St. Louis. In 
company with some American partners, he was going to establish a 
large menagerie at that show on the lines of the Arctic Panorama on 
the Heiligengeist Field, with the difference that now he was going to 
show animals from all over the world in fitting landscape settings. 
There was also a proposal, to which Father had agreed, to ship our 
best troupe of trained animals to America to take part in the circus 
menagerie which was to be built up for this St. Louis exhibition. 



TEN YEARS earlier my father had unintentionally made his d6but in the 
U.S.A. as an animal tamer appearing in the ring. My uncle, Heinrich 
Mehrmann, who was at this time the producer of the big mixed troupe 
of performing animals the largest ever shown so far had suddenly 
gone down with typhoid. Hence it was my father who appeared 
before all the many pressmen who had flocked from all the states to 
the opening of the Chicago Exhibition. He went straight to the central 
cage, where the lions and tigers were, to demonstrate his method of 
mastering them by kindness. From that day our name was made in the 
United States ! 

When in March 1904 we stood on board the s.s. Bethania and he 
was bidding me goodbye, 'Lad,' he said to me, 'I want you to take 
care we don't lose a single elephant.' He was indeed not a little wor- 
ried, for he was putting the largest group of exotic animals which we 
had ever handled directly into my hands. Twenty elephants had been 
sold to Thompson and Dundee and there were also two bachelor ele- 
phants which were going to the largest menagerie in the world, that of 
Luna Park on Coney Island. There were also eight others for the circus 
of the Ringling Brothers (who were of German extraction, then in 
close connection with Barnum and Bailey, who later bought them out), 
hi the transport there were still eight other elephants, including a 
cow and baby Jumbo. These belonged to our own proposed show at 
St. Louis. 

That made thirty-six elephants in all, not to speak of the other wild 
animals, trained and untrained, all in box-wagons, cages, tanks and 
baskets, covering the decks of the ship. 

A Hansa steamer had just berthed beside the Bethania, with five 
large working elephants on board, which I was also to take, and in the 
Bay of Biscay these had suffered severely from the foul weather. They 
were huddled on the deck, warming the tips of their trunks between 
their clenched fore legs, and there seemed a good chance that they 
had caught lung or liver chills. But even if it were one of these 
monsters, weighing over three tons, that suffered on the crossing, I 
should be to blame. 


'Take great care, Lorrie 1 ' said my father yet again, almost mena- 
cingly, and I think he must have heaved as tremendous a sigh of relief 
as I did when at last I telegraphed from New York : 'Arrived safe without 
loss. 9 Our predecessor Noah cannot have felt a bigger load slip from 
his shoulders, getting the Ark on to Ararat, than I did when the 
captain berthed that ship. The fifteen assistants and watchmen I had 
on board with me must also have thanked their stars when they saw 
the Statue of Liberty which, four years my junior, was still at the 
time only a flapper of nineteen. 

There was a tremendous crowd of reporters and curious sightseers 
awaiting our Bethania ark at the quayside at Hoboken. The gangway 
was not properly down when those pressmen stormed on board. Our 
customers were there, to shake my hand, and I made the acquaintance 
of both Thompson and Dundee, two smart young fellows. They had a 
fleet of twenty giant pantechnicons trucks, they called them 
waiting, to start the triumphal progress of their elephants to Luna Park. 

The pantechnicons were drawn by eight horses each. The tranship- 
ment went off perfectly. The only trouble was that the travelling case 
of the largest working elephant was going to be too big to go under 
the very first railway bridge on the road. Ten New York carpenters 
arrived forthwith with tools, and in two hours' time they had lowered 
the box by a couple of feet. True, the elephant himself stuck up out 
of it, but he at least had knee joints, and could be made to bob as the 
truck came up to each bridge, and so, with much elephantine bobbing 
and curtseying, the procession made off. 

To tell the truth, the arrival of this herd of Jumbos had sent a scare 
running through all American zoo and circus folk, and those present 
all had elephant goads up their sleeves or under their coats. Those boys 
were running no risks. Besides, if any of those elephants did run amok 
in New York, each man was out to be the one to catch the headlines ! 

So, while the remaining elephants were loaded into railway trucks, 
Thompson and Dundee's party rolled off to Luna Park, travelling 
through the heart of the great city. The clatter of one hundred and 
sixty horses' hooves and the rumble of all those heavy trucks and their 
loads drew crowds of thousands on the way to Coney Island, where, 
patient as sheep, my poor worn-out elephants went to their stalls 
without a hint of trouble. When, after supper, I went with the two 
pleasure park entrepreneurs to see the animals in their stables, there 
they lay already stretched out in fresh straw, their tummies comfort- 
ably full, and snoring like huge bellows. 


4 AML 


The following morning I took a stroll with Frederic Thompson 
through Luna Park, and saw that in design and layout it was not con- 
sidered the finest outfit in the New World for nothing. Not only were 
there the usual steam roundabouts and so forth and the customary 
attractions, but Thompson and Dundee had also produced a display 
which was making New Yorkers wildly enthusiastic. It was described 
as 'a combat with the flames.' The spectators looked down from an 
amphitheatre of seats on to a reproduction of a city street intersection, 
complete with trams, cars, porters, drunks coming out of a corner 
bar, and all manner of added comical acrobatic attractions, all designed 
to amuse the public. 

This was presented with a cross-section of its own daily life, and the 
culminating point was the arrival of a wedding coach which rolled up 
to an hotel, when the bridal pair emerged and went up to a bedroom 
on the third floor. They had scarcely had time to settle down (if that 
is the word) for the night when there came a terrible explosion in the 
basement of the building. For, as enormous lettering showed, below 
the hotel there was a store of paints and oils. A terrible fire was now 
produced by careful pyrotechnical devices, of course with 
flames and smoke and showers of sparks. Ah ! but at the last moment 
up came the brave firemen, to fight the conflagration with the latest 
devices (of 1904), while the bride and bridegroom (the former of 
course in a condition of extreme undress) leapt to safety on to the new- 
fangled specially sprung landing carpet lield out for them ! 

It was to be the terrible quirk of fate, however, to turn the tables 
on the organisers of this particular 'attraction.' While Thompson 
and Dundee's Japanese cook and servants were serving them and 
myself with red perch in tomato sauce, the genuine fire alarm went off 
so suddenly and so shrilly that I swallowed a large fishbone ! The whole 
flame-combating show was this time genuinely on fire, and it was the 
real firemen who were called in. But they were powerless to rescue 
the bridal couple from the third floor; the most they could do was 
quench what had become a red-hot grill. 

A week after my arrival in New York, Father came across from 
Hamburg, and we went on together to St. Louis. The site of the World 
Exhibition was already like a giant ant-heap. There seemed to be no 
end to the craftsmen engaged, busily creating our world in miniature. 
From Tyrolean mountain village to the Giant Wheel of Vienna, from 
Trans-Siberian Railway to the Pyramids, here were the wonders of the 
world in duplicate rising rapidly in plaster and timber against a back- 



ground of 'sculptured* landscape, and complete with Chinese villages 
and Eskimo igloos. The great monuments of Paris, Rome and Jerusa- 
lem literally sprang into being overnight. 

Immediately behind the exhibition ground ran the railway tracks. 
Our working elephants were one day waiting to move off when sud- 
denly two locomotives coupled together came hissing by. The noise 
of their steam and the metallic rumble of the wheels terrified the 
animals. Up went their trunks and with ears flung back they stormed 
away, trumpeting loudly, and charged straight into the village of the 
Philippine head-hunters. 

These poor Igarots, a primitive Malayan tribe, had never seen an 
elephant in their lives. And now the little brown-skinned folk sud- 
denly beheld giant pigs bigger than they could ever have dreamed of. 
When they had recovered a little from terrible fright they came to seek 
us out. They were clad in no more than loin-cloths, and were a sight 
worth seeing, for if in our animal paradise we had lacked Adams and 
Eves, now we had them staring in amazement at all the animals of 
the world, ranged before their gaze. Words failed them; indeed, they 
had none in their language for the principal topic, elephants, but they 
did have a lot to say about giant pigs with a tail at either end. 

Adjacent to the Japanese village was the pitch set apart for 'Carl 
Hagenbeck's Trained Animal Show.' This was a mammoth circus 
erection, behind which there was a large area fenced off into jungle, 
primeval forest, fjord and pack ice landscapes, all realised much in the 
same way as in Hamburg we had built up our Arctic Ocean Panorama. 
In these surroundings, our animals were absolutely at liberty. The gully 
with the lions and tigers was indubitably one of the greatest wonders 
'on the pike,* to use the American phrase of the day, in this enormous 
amusement park. 

My father was, however, soon called back to Hamburg, where, at 
Stellingen, to the north of the city, on waste ground, he was busy 
with the construction of his animal park. Before leaving, he appointed 
me his representative in dealings with his three American partners. 
One of these, Mr. Williams, was a dandy with polished finger-nails, 
patent leather shoes and a huge diamond ring, who knew nothing at 
all about animals. It irked him that the name Hagenbeck meant more to 
the pressmen than did that of Williams. Despite his rather blatant 
efforts to draw their attention, they clearly preferred to discuss things 
with me and my good friends, tamers Reuben Carstang and Charly 
Judge, who could tell them all about the animals and our methods of 


training. In the unconventional American manner, everybody by now 
called me 'Lawrence,' and at this time I became very enthusiastic 
about the informal manners of those grown-up children, the Yankees, 
with all their natural comradeliness which back in Hamburg would 
soon have been stifled by starch and a thousand conventions. 

Charly, Reuben and I shared a bachelor manage, with a jet-black 
cook named Susie to treat us to momma's well-tried recipes. By her 
unsurpassable strawberry shortcake Susie so established herself in my 
heart that I picture her now as an enormous statue of apple-bulging 
lovely short pastry above which gleam her radiant cheeks and that 
enormous smile which spread till it touched her ear-lobes whenever, 
our mouths crammed full, we praised her latest achievement in that 

Every day, when my two friends had completed their duties in the 
central cage, we set out together to wander through the exhibition 
and see all the sights for ourselves. What the seventy-six-year-old 
French author Jules Verne had depicted in his Round the World in 
Eighty Days aeronautical engineers had in fact not yet accomplished, 
but skilled showmen certainly now had a good shot at the illusion of it. 
One much- visited show was called Under and Over the Ocean. Here, in a 
fantastic submarine restaurant, one could look out on to the sea bed 
and see fish, crabs, turtles and sunken wrecks among rocks of coral 
overgrown with oysters. One really did have the impression of moving 
through that submarine world. To cater for every taste, there in the 
greenish twilight of the ocean depths was a mermaid cavorting past the 
observation windows. Nor was Paris any longer a distant city, for a 
tense 'time- table' swept the submarine through Atlantic waters and 
up the Seine, to moor in the heart of the capital of France. Up a few 
steps, nearby, one could go straight back to America in a giant airship 
of really far more ingenious construction than our Count Zeppelin 
was to think up : underneath the hint of a balloon there dangled in 
fantastic fashion the superstructure of an ocean steamer. One could 
lean on the rail of an upper promenade deck and gaze down on night-lit 
Paris, constructed as the guide proudly whispered to us from 
twenty thousand sheets of pasteboard. The deck would then begin to 
sway, and hidden fans created the breeze one felt, sweeping through 
the air, while down below one saw the landscape slowly slip away, 
so that one could imagine that one's airship was flying over the 
English Channel. On came the lights first of Brest, then of London, 
while for the Atlantic crossing the showman had provided yet further 


ingenious machinery, which supplied the rising moon, and just for 
variety a storm by night complete with thunder, lightning and Irench- 
ing rain, till with a sigh one suddenly saw New York sunlit New 
York beneath one, and the airship came safely down at the St. 
Louis World Exhibition ! 

Daily the stream of visitors increased and the dollars rolled in, while 
the showmen rubbed their hands. The Tower of Babel must have been 
like that scene. Folk of all the world's races, colours and religions 
met here, flat-footed Tyroleans, Chinese conjurers, Japanese geishas, 
singing Makakas from the South Seas, African tribes and Eskimos in 
skins. Certainly there was not one visitor who did not mark down on 
his show card 'See Carl Hagenbeck's Trained Animal Show. 9 

Immediately behind our pitch, just outside the Exhibition, there 
was a 'Wild West* hotel The Outside Inn 1 it was called at the 
bar of which the cowboys of the rough-riding arena and Indian chiefs 
met for drinks as soon as their show was over. Some fifty of the best- 
known Indian tribes had erected a picturesque wigwam camp at St. 
Louis, and their parades were suggestive of nothing else but German 
carnival shows, transformed into the glorious colours of the native 
peoples of North America. There were scenes there calculated to en- 
thuse every lad whose heart was in Wild West stories. Here rode 
Apaches, Sioux, Winnebagos and Senecas. Here the Blackfoot Indians 
danced their scalp and buffalo dances. Ambushes of the mail coach, 
shooting displays, riding displays, and bull-driving displays changed 
place with pageants of the story of the American drive into the Middle 
West. I think that Indian show was one of the most colourful genuine 
shows that I have ever seen. It gave one a glimpse of a great past, in 
which those redskins were still the lords of the North American 

On June loth we celebrated Father's birthday in the 'Cowboy 
Bar. ' Our circus band blew lustily, and we had such a thorough booze- 
up that Charly Judge got the crazy idea of bringing one of our trained 
elephants from its stable to drink its tot to Father's health, a madcap 
or should I say a mad-cup idea ; but, on the one hand, elephants do 
like a drop of liquor, and, on the other, it takes more than one double 
whisky to put an elephant out. 

So off whisked Charly, till suddenly the door-frame of that pub 
groaned, and there was the elephant the frame of that door like a 
sort of collar round its neck. Jumbo was now persuaded to sit down on 
a beer barrel and he got his glass. There was a fanfaronade from the 



band, and then everybody wanted the speech. * Where's Bauer? 1 
Bauer was our press manager, but, poor fellow, he had been snoring 
soundly some time since up in the pub's attic. Nothing doing, off 
went some ready fellows, to bring him straight from his warm bed, 
just as he was, in his nightshirt. Whether he wanted to or not, still 
tipsy with sleep, he had to get up, barefoot, on to a table and pro- 
nounce a birthday speech to our boss in distant Hamburg. 

Bravo ! Everybody by now was so cock-a-hoop that after being well 
treated Charly had to take the company for rides on the good ele- 
phant. But that was more than the floor of the bar could stand. The 
following day I learned that our good host himself had eventually 
taken refuge up his own chimney, thinking that all the more fragile 
parts of the building were going to come tumbling about his ears. 

From St. Louis I went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to visit Sol Stephan, 
once our representative and now in charge of the local zoo. I found a 
fine veteran at the game, whose great-grandparents had settled in 
America. Sol Stephan was a great friend of my father's and I always 
called him 'my American father.' The friendship continued till 1949, 
when at the fine age of a hundred old Sol died. In his youth he had 
travelled with a menagerie, and it was to this that he owed his later 
position as zoo curator. In those days, nobody in the United States 
bothered about diplomas or suchlike papers. The man who could 
collar a job and hold it down was the man they wanted. Sol's little 
office at the entrance to his zoo became a great meeting-place for 
American zoo owner-proprietors, who were always glad to discuss 
things with the old man and do business with him too. When on this 
occasion I went to see him, he was still our representative. 

There were at that time a number of real eccentrics among Ameri- 
can show folk, and one of these was John E. Robinson. Robinson had 
one peculiarity he was utterly incapable of pronouncing a single 
ordinary sentence. Everything he said was interlarded with resound- 
ing oaths of all kinds. They were so much second nature to him that 
he certainly did not even know that he used them. We were sitting in 
the little office over a glass of whisky, the skies darkening ominously 
and a sharp storm blowing up, with thunder and lightning, when there 
was suddenly a terrific burst right overhead. 'Jesus Christ, that was a 
terrible clap!' cried Sol. Robinson reproved him. 'God damned to 
hell, Sol,' he cried, 'how can you swear when such a terrible storm is 
on?' and himself dived straight under the table. 

When I got back to St. Louis, I found a letter from my father in- 



structing me to find a good place in the States to buy mules. Fortu- 
nately, the place was not far off, for East St. Louis was '.he ceatre of 
that trade. There were at the time reckoned to be 3,400,000 mules in 
the U.S.A., a sixth part of the draught animals of the country, in fact. 
The largest mules I saw were eighteen and a half hands high at the 
withers and weighed around 1,760 Ib. I fulfilled my father's request 
and sent a number of animals of this size to Hamburg. 

Though the mule's qualities of contentedness, toughness and per- 
tinacity in comparison with horses cannot be denied, we were never- 
theless not successful in selling many to private owners. Self-conscious 
brewery draymen in Germany threatened the bosses with a strike, for 
they saw themselves becoming the laughing-stock of their fellows if 
they were to harness those long-eared 'giant donkeys' and drive them 
through the streets. And in the meantime the motor-car settled the 
question. It was only mountain troops which in the 191418 war 
found mules irreplaceable, faithful assistants. 

Towards the end of the World Exhibition, the attendance had 
grown so much that the show was prolonged. At the Outside Inn in 
those days there was whispering about a fire which was shortly to 
break out. I considered it mere bar-counter talk, but yet it did occur 
to me that if those quite worthless but highly insured buildings were 
to be burned down it would bring somebody in a nice little sum. 
Nevertheless, I was certainly astonished when the very next morning 
after I first heard of it I received a kindly letter from an animal-loving 
gangster and bosom friend of our baby elephant with the well- 
intentioned advice to pull out with all my animals before the exhibition 

Lee Williams examined his polished finger-nails a long time, grin- 
ning sarcastically, when I showed him that letter, but all the same I 
had my lion and tiger box-wagons brought round to the exhibition 
ground, so that the animals could be kept in them when the show was 
over each day, and not in the wooden stables built for them, and I also 
trained my elephants for an alert and hired several teams of horses for 
the rapid removal of our menagerie. Those horses cost me three 
dollars each a day and Lee Williams was so wild about what in a show- 
down exchange of epithets he called idiotic squandering of good money 
that he refused to pay any part of it. 

Meanwhile, the day before closing day came round, and without 
consulting Williams I shifted all the movable animals to Olive Street, 
where I had hired some tram-car hangars for the purpose. And just ITL 


time. In the night I was awakened by wild shouting, then my window 
suddenly broke, and a stone fell on my bed. I rushed out on to the 
veranda in my nightshirt and at once sprang back again, for, only a 
stone's throw away, flames were bursting from the Japanese Exhibition 
and the wind was blowing our way and the heat growing fiercer every 
minute. Hastily I raced down the corridor, shouting to everybody to 
waken, and got my belongings together. Fortunately, the wind mean- 
time changed suddenly, or our whole set-up, which consisted almost 
exclusively of lath and plaster and straw matting, would have gone up 
in flames. 

The fire brigade came galloping out from St. Louis and their hoses 
poured tons of water into the leaping flames, while with all my men 
I succeeded in getting the wild animals out in time. All the others, of 
course, were already snug under cover in the tram hangars. 

Like moths to a candle the press boys came tearing in to that fire. 
One shouted across to me as I made my way to Olive Street he was 
already under the illusion that the Hagenbeck show had been com- 
pletely destroyed. In such matters the good Americans are still rather 
blind in their rivalries. Each pressman was afraid of the other paper 
getting away with a better story, so the following morning, when I 
glanced through the press, in the mass of heavy type with which all 
the front pages were spread I not only learned that Hagenbeck's 
Trained Animal Show was ended for ever, but was even able to see 
lurid sketches depicting the process of alleged destruction. 

How right too I was to fear that these wild stories would already be 
spread by cable all over the world. I went as early as possible to the 
post office, to send my father news that we were safe and sound, 
animals and all, but I lost by a long head. News of the 'disaster' 
reached my father simultaneously from Chicago and Cincinnati, and 
even Dr. Hornaday, director of the New York Bronx Park, telegraphed 
his condolences at the terrible loss. Further, through a misunder- 
standing of the post office, my own telegram did not reach Father till 
two days later, so that he had had time to send anxious telegraphic 
inquiry to all his friends in Chicago and St. Louis, in his efforts to 
ascertain if I too had lost my life. It was only on the third day that he 
received my cheerful news. 

After that fiery conclusion to the World Exhibition, which over- 
night so undeservedly gave our zoological circus yet another boost, I 
was faced with the question what to do next. My secret wish, which 
was to turn to a mammoth circus tent and the life of the road, found 



responsive ears in my three American partners. But I knew that 
Father, through hi , own circus experience, was not in favour. 'No 
Gypsy life for yoi ! ' he had always preached. 

But back home , at Stellingen, we were in the throes of construction 
work, and for the. moment we simply had not got the housing space 
for all the groups of performing animals which we now had In America. 
So my brother Heinrich came out post-haste from Hamburg, and the 
upshot of it all was that altogether we two founded the first real 
travelling circus of the name of Carl Hagenbeck, to nnke a tour of the 
United States. 

With fiery enthusiasm, Al Bode, wagon builder, of Cincinnati, 
undertook to construct the necessary road wagons. Albert, as he was 
called, was one of the most painstaking wagon builders I have ever 
seen. Only the very best timber would do for him, and, after going 
through America, some of the pantechnicons he made, with all their 
carved and applied ornament in the taste of the day, found a place in a 
circus museum there, where they can be seen to this day. Dweller 
caravans, such as we were used to in Germany for the human personnel 
of the circus, were not customary in the U.S.A. That need was satis- 
fied by a railway company supplying us with old Pullman cars, which 
were transformed into mobile dormitories for our animal keepers, our 
drivers and our tent men. 

Tent makers, saddlers, costumiers and printing presses were all set 
to work, and I was able to slip away to Hamburg, where, as usual, 
Father was assembling as many of the family as he could round the 
Christmas tree. Three weeks later, I was back in St. Louis, for I 
needed to make haste to find and purchase the horses I needed before 
our start. 

In those days there was of course no motorised transport, for the 
newfangled machines were still not taken quite seriously when they 
tootled through St. Louis at 'fully twelve miles an hour* ! For our pur- 
pose the horse still had no rivals. So I went to Diamond Bill. Diamond 
Bill was one of America's richest horse-breeders, residing at Lancaster, 
Missouri. One saw the reason for his nickname the moment one saw 
him, for he was covered with diamonds, even having a couple in his 
two gold-crowned front teeth. After a long railway journey and a 
neck-breaking drive by night, we reached an isolated, poorly lighted 
ranch and I bargained for and bought a hundred horses. A team that is 
to say, a pair in harness together cost at that time three hundred and 
seventy-five dollars. 



While we were riding over Diamond Bill's ranch, I was struck by a 
lovely white horse, and acquired 'Prince' for myself, while with 
much demonstrative hand-gripping and okays I bought another fine 
animal for my personal buggy. Diamond Bill was a great character and 
delivered all the horses on time at St. Louis, where we had estab- 
lished winter quarters, still in the tram-car sheds, and from early to 
late our performing animals continued their training. 

We began our first United States tour at St. Louis in true American 
fashion with three simultaneous riding rings and two stages, all inside 
a tremendous marquee. I rather regret this today. Had we offered our 
audiences a first-class programme in one central ring, as for tens of 
years I did subsequently, everywhere in the world, with great results, 
we should have saved ourselves enormous outlay. Our cashier had to 
raise no less than twelve thousand gold marks, no small sum in those 
days, for our mere daily expenses. And though that sum, of course, 
covered all current outgoings, it did not cover wear and tear, which 
under the rapid transport conditions customary in America was also a 
very big item. 

Every single day we played in a fresh town. Every night our special 
trains rolled on. That is the American pace of doing things, still kept 
up by the biggest circus in the world, the RBBB Show. RBBB stands 
for Ringling Bros., Barnum and Bailey's Combined Shows. RBBB 
open their season every year with a special star show of several days in 
Madison Square Garden, New York. After that it is a rare town in 
which they stay longer than two days. 

Comfortable living quarters in caravans and all the romantic life 
of the road of the German circuses are totally unknown in the U.S.A. 
Circus life there is today, as it was then, extraordinarily exhausting, 
with a tremendous bill in wear and tear for men, animals and equip- 
ment alike. We packed no less than ninety-six men, two to a bed, in 
three layers, in our specially adapted Pullman cars. Tent workers, 
drivers and animal keepers alike flopped down on their bunks dead 
tired, sodden with perspiration, generally without even undressing, 
even with their boots on, oblivious to the world from lack of sleep. 
The tent builders were as a rule athletic negroes. One foreman and 
five men made a team, and each team had its precise work mapped out 
for it. 

To give an idea what sort of men these were, let me tell a little 
story. In one of the teams whose job it was to wield eight-pound 
hammers and drive in the tent irons, we had two black fighting-cocks 


who were always at one another's throats. I gave them a talking to and 
said I wanted to see them do a bit of hammer-swinging too. Suddenly 
one of the pair started up the quarrel again, and instead of swinging 
his hammer on to a tent iron he swung it on to the crisp woolly skull 
of his rival. 

When I arrived on the scene, the victim was sitting on a stool inside 
the tent, while a doctor bandaged his blood-spattered cranium. The 
man was groaning and holding his temples. He complained of 
headache ! The doctor shook his head. 'One of us, 1 he said, 'could not 
have stood a quarter of the blow, but all it did to this beauty was bring 
him to his knees.' 

'Say, doc,' moaned the negro, in his lovely Southern English, 'you 
don't think that blow's hurt my brain, do you?' 

I comforted him and gave him a dose of whisky, and his mood 
rapidly improved. The very same evening I saw the 'poor fellow' 
again. With his straw hat clapped on top of his well-bandaged head, 
with great II an he was dancing the cake-walk ! 

After a long night journey, we would reach the next town while it 
was still dark, when the first task was to set up the kitchen and a large 
dining marquee. By the time the flag was unfurled at the top of this 
rallying point, a mighty breakfast was ready to be served for every- 
body, and after that the reinforced hammer-boys got to work with 
double energy. The same custom is still observed today in American 

Next came raising the big top and the menagerie tents. One after 
another the wagons were drawn up and the unloading ramps put in 
place. Each team did the same road only twice, no matter how many 
horses were required. Finally, the animals were then fed, curried and 
decorated, everything being made ready for the great parade. 

There were brass bands in open wagons or on horse back, then 
magnificent menagerie wagons with lions and tigers, clowns, dancing 
girls, acrobats, stilt- walkers and dwarfs in a costumed procession. 
The American burghers would be most disappointed if there were not 
at least one veiled 'Indian Princess' peeping 'shyly' out through the 
curtains of the howdah on her elephant. Teams of zebras and camels 
always delighted farming folk. In front of all this I rode my dazzling 
white Prince. To this day I can hear the music of the band, for once 
the bandmaster had discovered my favourite tunes he played them all 
the way across America. 

This circus parade would last about two hours. By midday the 



animals were all back in their stalls, the horses fed a second time, and 
till seven in the evening there would be absolute peace, till the 
audience began to pour in through the main entrance or would it 
merely trickle in? 

Gates open! What countless times I have stood and watched the 
crowds pouring in yellow, black, red, white men. Gates open! 
There is the test, each time, whether publicity, place and time have 
been well chosen, or it was sheer stupidity to pitch the tents at all in 
that particular place. For you can do whatever you like and lay out 
unheard-of sums on publicity, yet see that incalculable creature, mass 
man, refuse to come out whereas go on to the next town and they 
storm the cash desk ! 

How familiar the consolatory words of one's assistants become! 
Monday is a bad day. Tuesday is never any good, either. Who thinks 
of going out anywhere on a Wednesday? Thursday? That is a wash-out 
too. Surely you know that Friday is payday? Yes, but the money is 
never spent till Saturday. (Sundays there was never any show in 
America anyway.) 'Surely, sir, you don't expect a full house in such 
rain, (heat, cold, storm)? But we're right at the end of the month! 
We're right at the time when people go away for their holidays! 
We're just a week after the annual fair ! Didn't you know that the folk 
are all out in the fields just now?' 

I am sure the director of the Circus Maximus in Rome knew this 
litany as well as I do, though perhaps he did not pay the losses out of 
his private purse, as I did! Against all this gloom I can only remark 
that we have on occasion played without any canvas, in the open air, 
in a sea of mud and in deep snow and had a full gate, turning all 
calculations upside down ! 

Circus shows are lotteries, and no blah, no lucky star, no talisman 
helps. I have put on the show on a Friday which was the thirteenth of 
the month and had an empty house, but I have done the same else- 
where and had it packed out. To this day nobody has the slightest idea 
of the secret recipe by which the owner of a travelling circus can be 
sure of becoming a millionaire. 

Talking of standing at the gate when folk were coming in, I re- 
member once in Pennsylvania seeing a youngster nearly six feet tall 
with a children's under-fourteen ticket, and as he pressed his way 
through the turnstile in my best English I asked him how old he was. 
He turned to a rather scraggy old farmer and in the best North German 
dialect inquired: 'Dad, how old am I?' 'Thirteen, you damn fool,' 



said the old man in the same language. I could not help wishing the 
couple the best of luck in their own tongue, adding that Papa was a 
lucky man to have such a fine boy of thirteen and I wished the boy the 
same good fortune some day. Scarlet to the ear-tips they made them- 
selves mighty scarce in the crowd. 

Our performances lasted exactly one hour forty-five minutes. There 
was no detailed working out of separate items, as in Germany, with all 
the audience concentrating on the ring in a programme well planned 
and spaced out with music. Here there was just one continuous circus 
fireworks display in three rings and on two stages at once, and the 
moment any turn ended the performers made off to rest, flopping 
down in the grass or under a wagon to snatch a little more sleep. 

When the audience emerged, dizzy enough, from this wild kaleido- 
scope, they were the prey of the ready-lemonade sellers, who mixed 
the liquor they sold by dissolving a startling yellow powder in water. 
It was obligatory to have what were called floaters on top of this. 
These were slices of lemon and apple, apparently considered a sort of 
guarantee of the genuineness of the beverage. 

After the evening shows, which ended a little before ten, a further 
'night show* would be put on with angelic voices to boost it, for of 
course it was all a matter of more money, and the tickets for this 
dubious second house required all the arts of persuasion to sell them. 
A couple of snake-charmer girls or something of that price level 
usually sufficed to satisfy the suckers, while with record speed our 
negroes with thunderous clatter took down the seats and packed the 
circus up. This took literally seventy minutes, so that by one o'clock 
in the morning we were well on the road again. 

My personal coachman actually boasted the remarkable name 
Dczimblewsky. In the list of personnel, however, he was to be found 
under Z ; nobody thought of him as under D, or took any notice at all 
of the first two letters. And as we had taken him over from the 
Ringling circus, he was generally known quite simply as Ringling. He 
had one great maxim : 'Fear God and chew hard and you will always 
have plump cheeks.' And from morning to night one would see him 
endlessly chewing at his favourite cud, which produced a lovely 
supply of juice, for him to spit at intervals with highly trained pre- 
cision. In those days, of course, long-distance precision spitting was in 
America considered a great social accomplishment, and grand masters 
of the art, meeting in the lounge of an hotel or at a railway station or 
the barber's, would vie with one another, for there was always a big 



spittoon at hand. Greenhorns who missed the pot earned considerable 
scorn, and despite many good runners-up among the darkies Ringling 
held our circus long-distance record. That, however, was the end of 
his special accomplishments. 

In every town, after the performance, Ringling used to be ready for 
me with the buggy, to drive to the bank to pay in our takings. I used 
to drive on such occasions, with our cashier, John Sheehy, at my side. 
In his coat pocket John had a Colt six-shooter ready with the safety 
catch up, and the cash-box was under the seat, protected by 
Ringling' s broad shoulders. We also had Tiger, which was the most 
loathsome hound I ever set eyes on, being a remarkable blend of bull- 
dog and terrier. The escort, of course, was a kind of insurance for our 

Though most of these bank trips passed off without incident, on 
one occasion, in Arkansas, a fellow whose appearance inspired little 
confidence did leap out at us. But before Sheehy had had time to draw 
his famous Colt, Ringling had shot, and the juicy brown stream caught 
the fellow square in the eyes. That certainly halted him in his tracks, 
and he stood staring, speechless, and no doubt imagining it was a 
Tibetan lama who had passed. 

Elephants had of old been my pets, though during that American 
tour they often made me furious. Our staff was always leaving us, and 
so in the early days I was often obliged to load my elephants aboard 
myself. This happened at Buffalo, and there the animals suddenly took 
fright. I leapt between the leading pair, got a hand on the ear of each, 
and tried to stop them, but like a shot they were off, dragging me 
down the railway embankment, and I had to do some fine athletic 
work to keep my feet. Like a storm they raced straight through a 
drainpipe manufactory, with two younger elephants at their heels. It 
was not till we had gone some distance into the open country that I got 
the animals quietened down and brought them to a halt. Tails! 1 I 
then commanded, and at once they stood in Indian file, gripped each 
other's tails with their trunks, and cheerfully trotted back to the 

That was not too bad, but in Iowa we missed out a town because all 
my elephants ran away. Near the goods yard of the Des Moines station 
was a lake, and it was blazing hot that day, so I gladly took advantage 
of the patch of water to let the creatures enjoy a really good dip. That 
unusual show of course drew hundreds of spectators. To get a better 
view of the diving, splashing, water-squirting elephants the crowds 



clambered up on to the sheet-iron roofs of the disconnected wagons, 
as if about to cheer their own rugby team. But though five of my 
Indians had gone in with the larger elephants, suddenly ill sixteen 
trunks were raised high in the air and in a fit of panic the whole herd 
of them swam to the other side of the lake and with shrill trumpeting 
vanished into the woods on the far side. It was not till twenty-four 
hours later that we had reassembled them all, and in order not to upset 
the remainder of our tightly drawn schedule we had to miss out the 
next place altogether. The loss to me was a round twelve thousand 

I now decided that the thing to do was to have a really strong man 
to look after those pachydermatous friends of ours, so I put the 
strongest American we had in charge. This fellow turned the scales 
at exactly fifteen stones, and it was whispered of him that in self- 
defence he had killed two men with his fists. They called him the 
Star Kid, and he certainly was a colossus. He would have gone through 
fire on my account, and I think the elephants saw in him a rather un- 
fortunate miscarriage of their own race. Whether that was really the 
reason or not, they were certainly very fond of him, while at the same 
time they held his whip in serious respect. Star Kid and a couple of 
stalwart Hamburger lads, on the payroll as animal keepers, formed the 
backbone of our motley staff. 

It was somewhere in Pennsylvania that one night the men charged 
with loading suddenly went on strike and threatened to come to blows 
if we insisted on going on working. Star Kid and his two lads piped 
their warnings, and loading proceeded as per usual. But when the train 
was assembled, the strikers deliberately switched the points wrongly, 
and as they had also loosened the rails on the sleepers we had a box- 
wagon of twenty horses tip over. In a twinkling, axes were to hand, 
and in no time Star Kid and our Hamburg lads had smashed in the roof 
of that truck to free the animals, which were terrified, struggling in a 
tangled confusion. At that instant, up came one of the strikers to enter 
an energetic protest. He said that opening box- wagons on our own 
like that was an infringement of labour regulations. I could hear him 
kicking up a terrible noise. Then suddenly there was silence. Later on 
that evening I asked Star Kid what had happened. But Star Kid merely 
shrugged his shoulders. 'That man,' he said, 'was so tired he just lay 
down and fell asleep. ' 

The strike leader was still asleep when my staff loaded the horses 
into another truck. I shone a lantern in the man's face, to be struck 


by the look of the fellow's chin. One would have said that he had 
collided with some very hard obstacle. But yet he was breathing very 
peacefully, and he was in nobody's road where he had chosen to lie. 
So, stuffing a five-dollar bill into his pocket for his 'pains,' I left him 
alone, and was rather glad when the locomotive gave its moving-off 
whistle without the fellow's having bothered Star Kid and his mates 

After we had covered 7,918 miles, that night melody of the United 
States railways came to its end for me at last. We had put up our big 
top in something like thirty towns before, after a farewell perfor- 
mance at Lebanon, we retired into well-earned winter quarters at the 
Carthage, Ohio, racecourse. The riding hall and many stables served as 
quarters for the animals, and our basic staff made themselves busy with 
repairs. Freed now from the treadmill of incessant travel and per- 
formance, Charly, Reuben and I went to New York, where at the 
Liichau Restaurant, famous meeting-place of German sea captains, 
we astonished mine host and all the waiters by our prowess as appar- 
ently starving trenchermen. 

Christmas was now at hand again, so in December 1905- I at last 
went back to Hamburg, taking with me Joe Stephan, son of old Sol of 
the Cincinnati Zoo, and Father welcomed us both, just in time for the 
Christmas celebrations. 


M^5^^-V'V^w ^'/'s 

A Rattlesnake-dangerously poisonous: the annular horny umwth at 
the tip of the tail, which causes the rattle, can clearly k seen 


WHEN I got home, it was to receive the startling news that the German 
Government had entrusted us with the task of getting a thousand 
dromedaries at top speed to the German defence forces in South- West 
Africa. They were urgently needed. The army there had no draught or 
riding animals for the Kalahari Desert, where the Herero people had 
risen in rebellion. 

'Like to take them out?' Father asked me. 'Menges is already out 
in Massawa ; I am sure you could be of use to him. ' 

On January i7th, I reached Port Said by the postal packet s.s. /sis, 
and as the Maria Menzel was not to arrive till somewhat later, I made 
an excursion to Cairo to take a look at the zoo there, at that time in the 
charge of Captain Flower. It would not have been surprising if in that 
climate they had a magnificent collection of African wild animals to 
show, but all the same the hippopotamus an animal out of the very 
river which flowed almost at their door had come from Hamburg ! 
It was so much more reliable to order from Hagenbeck's catalogue 
than to send out one's own animal trappers. 

Together Captain Flower and I paced the magnificent mosaic walks 
of the Cairo Zoo, and I learned from him that these were his greatest 
bugbear as they were constantly in need of repair, and only skilled 
Italian mosaic workers could be trusted to do die necessary work on 
them satisfactorily. Bemoaning the tremendous expense of all this, he 
explained that the mosaic was not originally laid for his zoo visitors, 
but for the veiled odalisques who once took their pleasure in these 
gardens, for this park had formerly constituted the harem gardens of 
some high-placed Egyptian dignitary. 

It goes without saying that I made an excursion to see the Pyramids. 
For this purpose I hired a dromedary and thereby set the locals a real 
puzzle, for those crafty sons of the desert were used to spotting their 
customer's origins by his footwear. One glance at your shoes and they 
expected to know what language to address you in. But my shoes were 
Italian, I spoke English which was frankly American, my clothes were 
cut by a London tailor, but their contents were genuine Hamburg 
ware. And the Egyptians racked their poor brains more still over the 



way 1 rode my dromedary,* which is no easy animal to handle. For of 
course they could not be expected to guess that at home in Hamburg 
I had had quite a lot to do with the 'ship of the desert' and knew just 
what to do with him. 

Burning hot the gentle breeze of the Sahara blew steadily over the 
dunes of sand, which glinted in the sun. The desert was one immense 
yellow ocean, arched by an azure sky. Nearby, the four-thousand-year- 
old Cheops' pyramid reared its twenty-five million cubic feet of stone. 
And there was a dragoman, plucking at my leg, offering me a statuette, 
of course minus arms and legs, but I bent down from my saddle and 
in my best New York slang told the lad that I made the goddam things 
myself. 'And how's business?' I asked. Without a moment's hesitation, 
the young rogue took my breath away by asking me if I had any that I 
could sell him! Sphinx-like, I gazed into the far distance. 

Two days later, the Maria Menzel berthed at Port Said. The captain 
was a knowledgeable young man, and he immediately invited me to go 
gambling with him. Our way led through winding alleys, down steps, 
through vaults, into a ghostly-lit room, in which a motley of persons 
of dubious respectability was seated round the gambling table. The 
captain immediately won 20, and as quickly lost it again. Finally he 
rose from the table 10 down and swore like the money-divers who 
ran down to the bank of the Suez Canal when our transport ship 
slowly drew near, to be tricked by the sailors who threw trouser 
buttons into the water for them to fish out. 

At Massawa I shook Joseph Menges' hand. Menges was an old world 
traveller of ours, the man who had been such a good uncle to us 
during the cholera plague. Here everybody called him Mister Mungus. 
All the natives loved and respected him. The Maria Menzel unloaded 
the fodder it had brought from Hamburg, and here and at other 
harbours of the Red Sea took on board the dromedaries which 
Menges had already bought up. Grieger, our well-tried Siberian 
traveller, managed the job of getting the 'ships of the desert' on board. 
They clearly were not really seaworthy, but had to be trussed like 
mail packets, loaded on to flat-bottomed native boats in which they 
were taken out to the Maria Menzel, whose crane could then heave 
them on board. 

All the same, there was one dromedary which wriggled free as it 

* The author, of course, was on the single-humped camel, more specifically and 
hereafter in this book called the dromedary. The term camel includes the two-humped 
'Bactrian' camel of Asia, or is used more specifically for this. Translator. 



was being hoisted on board, and fell plump into the Red Sea. At once 
in plunged the Arabs after it, and got a new strap under its belly and 
up it went again. By this time, as a matter of fact, that dromedary 
was swimming magnificently. I marvelled, however, that the operation 
passed off with no untoward incident, for all round we could see the 
spinal fins of countless sharks cleaving the surface of the blue waters. 

When at last, with four hundred and three dromedaries and sixty 
Arab assistant keepers on board, the Maria Menzel moved off and her 
siren sounded farewell, I had only two days' time, for Father had now 
instructed me by telegraph to take along the sister ship, Hans Menzel, 
from Djibuti. 

At Berbera I made a new friend and came upon an old acquaintance. 
The first was Father Cyprian, a missionary who was teaching the curly- 
headed little Somalis English, arithmetic, reading and writing, to 
which on his own account he added singing. The young songsters were 
burning to show me their skill, and as each of those shrill-voiced little 
things was anxious to be first the noise they created made their cor- 
rugated iron school hut vibrate from end to end. 

The old acquaintance was our good Hersy Egeh, who as long ago as 
1 89$ had led men and women of his tribe under my father's and Joseph 
Menges' guidance to the great Somaliland in London show which they 
put on at the Crystal Palace. I found his innumerable children were still 
amusing themselves with a now very rattly old bicycle which Hersy 
had taken back from London. It lacked brakes, wind in the tyres and 
bell, but was nevertheless still giving good service, with Hersy promis- 
ing to bring the children back new tyres from Hamburg. For he had 
had a letter from my father asking him to go there the following year, 
taking the whole tribe of them, to be present at the opening of our 
Stellingen Animal Park. 

Now, however, I was Hersy's guest. He placed a fine Arab stallion 
at my disposal, very proud at last to be able to show me his own 
country, which I certainly found as exciting as a Somali must find 
Hamburg. We rode to a village some distance inland, and soon by the 
distant clouds of dust saw that a great riding display, such as must de- 
light any horse-lover, was in full swing. Their burnouses flying in the 
wind, the cavalcade came galloping down on us. Suddenly they reined 
in their horses and the audience leaned forward to watch. The dances 

Hersy Egeh rose to his full chieftain-like height in his picturesque 
stirrups. I did not understand a single word of the speech he made, 



but when he pointed to me and after my own name I heard * Mister 
Mungus', the whole village yelled: 'Ayahovoh,' spears flew into the air, 
and immediately there was a wooden box covered with a rush mat, 
and I had a seat of honour, from which to observe the passionately wild 
dances which followed 1 

How often since then have I seen such performances in circuses, 
animal parks and folk exhibitions, but none has ever impressed me so 
profoundly as that spontaneous ordinary local holiday dance under the 
burning sun of Somaliland. 

Meantime that Government order, which at first had stipulated the 
supply of one thousand dromedaries, had been altered, and we now 
had to find two thousand of the beasts. To spare costs, Father wanted 
me to charter additional transport locally in African ports. As there 
was not a single ship at Berbera, Menges and I went on to Aden, a 
fortified British strongpoint on the sea route to India. In vain at 
Steamer Point we sought a dromedary-carrying steamer. Before we 
could find transport on to Djibuti, I had the opportunity here of 
seeing the water reservoirs which were being re-excavated. These 
reservoirs catch the rains coming down from the mountains, a valu- 
able thing at the hot Gateway of Tears, on the water route from Bab el 
Mandeb. I was told by the corporal of an Indian regiment stationed 
there that those reservoirs held twenty million imperial gallons of 
water ! 

At Djibuti 'Mr. Mungus/ as the natives here too called him, hired a 
house for us down on the shore. This may sound very grand, but it 
merely meant a single whitewashed room with a door and two holes in 
the wall. These holes in the wall were said to be the windows. All 
night it seemed that all the cats and vermin of the neighbourhood used 
them to go in and out. Outside, the sea murmured in the moonlight 
and the hyenas howled, till I was dreaming that I was back in Hamburg, 
where so often hyena cries had been my lullaby. 

Suddenly I had the impression I was out on a deep sea swell. Every- 
thing was swaying. Drowsy with sleep, I staggered to one of the 
windows and looked out. There was nothing to be seen, only the 
silvery moonshine over the midnight blue of the Gulf of Aden and the 
peaceful murmur of the sea. 

'Don't worry, Lorenz,' Menges' voice suddenly startled my 
meditation. 'It was only a little earth tremor. You'll have to get used 
to those out here* and he turned to the wall and was asleep again. 

Meanwhile, the wind had risen, and a disgusting stench poured in 



through the window holes. When I asked about it, Menges muttered 
an answer, and I had learned that Djibuti's principal export article 
was shark tails and fins, which the Chinese consider delicacies. The 
remainder of the shark is thrown away. I had thought there must be a 
stink-bomb factory nearby, and never dreamt I would one day find 
myself actually eating and enjoying shark fins. 

The following morning, one of our travellers, Ernst Wache, 
arrived at Djibuti. Father had sent his very best men to Africa. He felt 
he had need of all possible forces, if he was to supply that huge 
Government order on time. At the Messageries Mari times agency we 
learned that the s.s. Akbar which we had bespoken was to reach Aden 
in the next few days, and while Menges through Chief Egeh as inter- 
preter was bargaining with the drivers over a party of dromedaries 
which had in the meantime come down from the interior, I went on 
to Aden with Wache to await the steamer. 

I could have been of no use in dromedary buying, for I had not 
mastered the secret finger-language used in that trade. The following 
was the procedure. Hersy Egeh and the seller took each other's hands 
and covered them with a cloth. Thus they literally got into a huddle 
and, unseen by any of the dromedary salesmen clustering round them, 
bargained away unhindered to determine both fair price and Hersy's 
share in it. It was all done by a complicated system of finger pressure, 
and there was only one man working with Carl Hagenbeck of Ham- 
burg who knew all the tricks of the East African dromedary trade, 
and that was Hersy Egeh. 

Our wait at Aden was terribly dreary. Day after day I squatted on 
the quayside at Steamer Point and fished. As the sun went down the 
eels would bite well, but they always held fast to their holes by their 
tails. When I did pull in my first steely blue and about a yard long 
the natives ran wildly, with cries of: 'A snake, a snake!' Once again 
the old observation about country folk always being extremely cau- 
tious in their diet proved true, but at our inn we had those eels 
grilled for us and were delighted with them. They proved excellent 
eating, and a pleasant change from the Arab bill of fare. 

Near to our table squatted our host, cross-legged on his mat. He 
was a genial Moslem, prepared to go to enormous pains to avoid the 
slightest exertion. In a way, he was right. It was like an oven at Aden. 
But his inertia went to strange lengths. When a maid wanted to give 
the floor a sweep, he made not the slightest effort to get out of the 
way, whereupon she unceremoniously grabbed the edge of his mat 



and lugged the cross-legged figure a little to one side. That produced a 
heartbreaking sigh from the corpulent body. * Verily, 1 he said senten- 
tiously, 'man, as you see, is like a bird, here at one moment, there the 

There was something in what he said. A fortnight later, we were 
back at Djibuti. The s.s. Akbar had still not come in, so I had to join 
the Hans Menzel, chartered at Hamburg, as what in maritime terms is 
known as supercargo. 

Heavens, what an old tub that was ! I was sure that that voyage must 
have been the very last before she broke up of her own volition. The 
bunkers caught fire no less than three times on that round-Africa 
trip. There was always a smell of burning and something smouldering 
about her, and as the deck was piled with straw, hay and other fodder, 
as well as quantities of spirit and styrax (which we used against scab), 
I was always fearing the worst. Below decks the heat was unbelievable. 
The combination of equatorial heat, bunker fires and the accumulated 
warmth of the crowded transport of dromedaries, produced a tem- 
perature which glued one's shirt to one's back. It was a glad moment 
every time I was at last able to clamber up, through the open hatch, 
away from it. If I had needed any additional proof of what a dromedary 
can stand, it was to hand now. They had been trained by centuries to 
hard conditions and chronic thirst. 

Week after week we steamed along the coast of East Africa. We had 
a run through the streets of Mozambique, and we put in at Durban 
(or Port Natal) to take in fresh water and to bunker. Our captain put 
on his best Sunday suit and a bowler hat and showed me round the 
town. There were Zulu-Kaffirs waiting for us on the quay with their 
rickshas, a wonderful sight, for on their heads they wore the tre- 
mendous horns of antelopes or buffaloes, fantastically polished in 
radiating black and white lines, for which they use brushes made of 
porcupine quills. The strange, savage head-dress is further set off by 
lion or leopard skins draped over the men's shoulders. 

There was a fierce crescendo of cries from the Zulu boys as they 
invited us to take a ride round their city. Into their rickshas we 
climbed, and off we went at a remarkable pace, our black human 
steeds making enormous strides, for, as the seating in their little 
vehicles was well behind the axle, at every leap he took the man on the 
long shafts was raised into the air, and thus carried forward some 
distance, before his weight counterbalanced and his feet could touch 
the ground again for another flying impulse to be given to the whole 



combination. We simply flew along, cutting corners terribly sharply, 
and soon I saw my captain sprawling on the kerbstones. I hurried to his 
aid, but he was not hurt, only swearing so effectively that both our 
Zulus took to hasty flight. 

The eighty Arab dromedary men whom we had taken on board at 
Berbera were under the command of Matthias Walter. Walter was 
one of those small, wiry fellows. The Stellingen folk had christened 
him Jack-in- the-Box, not only because it suited him, but also because 
his favourite expression was to say something was as broad as it was 
long,* and in German that suggested the punning nickname. He had 
formerly been at sea. 

Rounding the Cape of Good Hope, we ran into a storm and then 
Walter had a very narrow squeak. He was nearly swept overboard. 
We had been struggling day and night at about two knots an hour 
under full steam against high wind and heavy seas, when the tarpaulin 
which protected the dromedary stalls was torn away. Up to his waist 
in the seas breaking over the deck, Walter fought his way forward to 
get at them when a high wave broke over the Hans Menzel, tearing the 
ship's bell from its lashings and sending it crashing against the bridge. 
When the ship lifted her nose again out of the foaming waters there 
was nobody to be seen. Only after anxious moments did we discover 
what had happened to Walter he had been thrown twenty yards 
back, midships, happily unhurt, but buried under the ruins of the 
dromedary stalls, which had now completely collapsed. One of the 
animals had its neck broken, another had been swept over a barrier 
and strangled by its own halter. But, to balance this loss of two animals, 
by the time that, after thirty-seven days' voyage, we anchored off 
Liideritz Bay, seven new dromedaries, mostly born in the Indian 
Ocean, had seen the light of day. 

Liideritz Bay was inhabited by great quantities of penguins, but I 
had no time to catch any, for our orders were to continue without 
delay to Swakopmund. Before we left on this last stage of our journey, 
Fritz Schipfman came on board. He had had charge of twenty-seven 
dromedaries of the previous consignment, which had been rejected 
by the Defence Force recruiting commission as obviously ailing, but 
under his care the animals had clearly got over their indispositions and 
were in fine form. 

Three days later our anchor once again rattled through the hawse- 

* In German : 'dochjacke wie Hose' 'as much jacket as trews', i.e. 'as broad as it's long' 
the German expression was turned into Hamburg dialect Jack un Biix. Translator. 



hole and we were at Swakopmund. The unloading was an interesting 
operation, as there was no quay, and heavy Atlantic breakers were 
constantly breaking on the shelving beach. The animals were lowered 
on to a pontoon attached by a hawser to a windlass on shore, and every 
time this rose on the crest of a breaker a few feet of hawser were 
swiftly hauled in by a team of soldiers, till at last the thing grounded 
firmly on the sandy beach. 

By now, no doubt both through the food we were getting and 
climatic changes, Schipfman, Wache (another assistant), Walter and I 
were all down with a sharp attack of dysentery. As the only regular 
convenience in the little inn where we put up (dignified by the title 
* hotel' !) happened to be at the bottom of the backyard, for some time 
the whole of the great firm of Hagenbeck, Section South- West Africa, 
kept to its rooms, seated on so many enamel receptacles. Matthias 
Walter was the most seriously affected, but found our situation so 
funny that in spite of severe pain he went into hysterics of laughter 
every time the gripes began. However, I came to the conclusion that 
he was in rather a dangerous condition, so as a Wormann steamer was 
just leaving for Hamburg I dispatched him straight back home. As we 
knew no ship would willingly accept a passenger suffering from that 
particular complaint, we resorted to a ruse, and in the guise of a tipsy 
man found we had no difficulty whatsoever in getting Walter on board. 
Once there, he soon retired to the ship's sick-bay and spent the whole 
voyage there. It was not for some time after his return to Germany that 
he really recovered. But by means of horse doses of castor oil, helped 
down by quantities of mulled red wine and tots of neat rum, the rest of 
us were able to rise again from our enamel thrones and get about. 

In all we transported two thousand dromedaries, including first- 
class riding animals, to German South- West Africa, and the Defence 
Force lost no time in going into training with them. With the con- 
signment, we supplied 7,000 worth of saddles, made after the native 
pattern by Hamburg saddlers. Just to give an idea of the tremendous 
cost of all this, let me mention that our cable bill alone amounted to 
2,000 I say nothing of the huge charges for chartering five whole 
transport ships. 

Introducing the dromedary into South- West Africa, Father was 
convinced he had achieved something momentous in cultural history. 
Later it was to be seen how mistaken he was. But at that time I think 
there was nobody who realised that the little boneshakers which were 
beginning to trundle the roads of Europe on veterinary surgeon 



Dunlop's pneumatic rubber tyres the first automobiles in other 
words were the real epoch-makers in that sphere, destined to 
eliminate both the horse in Europe and the dromedary in South 

Stellingen was now like an ant-heap. In the animal-park-to-be our 
foundling working elephants jostled one another, hauling the huge 
drays, specially built for them, containing up to five thousand cubic 
yards of earth all dug out, by the way, and loaded by hand. Hirsch, 
the landscape gardener, had undertaken to transform waste ground 
into a park landscape. The only trees growing there at the time were 
the three oaks near what was to become our Japanese Island. The plot 
was all pasture, except for some acres of potatoes. Today over sixty 
different species of trees and shrubs grow there, giving all-the-year- 
round life to the park. Valuable bronze statuary, Japanese vases higher 
than a man, have found their place harmoniously amid the East Asian 
flora of the Japanese Island garden. 

Here among other trees were planted some specimens of the rare 
gingko, or maidenhair tree, with its lovely golden autumn hues. Hold 
one of the peculiarly shaped leaves of this tree against the light and you 
have its secret revealed, for each leaf consists of many fine needles 
which, close packed, have grown together. The gingko is a half-way 
species between needle-bearing and leaf-bearing trees, a primitive 
form of growth, first discovered by a German botanist in Japan in 
1690. It was none other than Goethe who was responsible for planting 
the first tree of the kind in Germany. It stands in the Prince's Park in 
Jena. Gingkos flourished in the days of the great saurians, before man 
existed at all. 

Speaking of saurians, I recall that it was our sculptor, Joseph 
Pallenberg, who showed the Hamburg stonemasons the awesome form 
of the various monsters which existed millions of years ago. Under his 
tuition, they reproduced in stone the pterodactyl and other amphibian 
monsters, creating them life size in our Stellingen Animal Park. Father 
sent the Dusseldorf sculptor to the natural history museums of Ger- 
many and America, and then, basing himself on skeletal finds and the 
latest palaeontological advice, Pallenberg built up the largest of all 
dinosaurians the diplodocus, which was about seventy feet long. 

He was a very jolly fellow, was that good Rhinelander, and as he 
never let his pipe go out while working he was popularly known as 
Jupp mit de Piep, or Pipe Joe. His studio at Lohausen was more like a 



natural history museum, and his live models were a private zoo in 
themselves. He was a first-class sculptor and an animal friend too, 
always able to realise in three dimensions whatever Wilhelm Kuhnert 
produced in sketchbook or on the easel. When, arriving home from 
Africa, I drove in under the scaffolding of our main entrance, Pallen- 
berg's animals were just being unpacked, and to this day they still 
offer sightseers life-size reproductions of the animal world of the 
Arctic and the Tropics. Thus were artists, engineers, gardeners and 
navvies, all under Heinrich's general direction, realising Father's life's 
dream, and there was work enough for everybody. 

However, my own circus enterprise soon called me back to North 
America. Lee Williams telegraphed: 'Come immediately, meet at 
Chicago.' But when I arrived it was to find a message from him to say 
that he would be three days late. That was bad, since I had brought no 
spare cash with me. I could, of course, pay my hotel bill later, but I 
did not want to owe the accommodating head waiter for my meals. As 
I did not want to bother any of our American acquaintances for a loan, 
I wandered in very ill humour about the streets, puzzling out how I 
was to exist for three days more on my very last dollar. I paused outside 
a twenty-five-cent bar. 

'Hallo there, Lawrence, how are you?' cried a waiter who obligingly 
stood in the doorway. 

I was defeated. 'How do you know me?' I asked. 

'Jesus Christ,' he cried, 'didn't I serve you day in, day out, at the 
Outside Inn, during the St. Louis World Exhibition? Surely you 
haven't forgotten how my boss took refuge in the fireplace?' 

Only then it dawned on me who he was, and as he seemed so 
friendly I plucked up courage and sponged on him. He at once lent 
me ten dollars, and so, till Lee Williams turned up, I was well away.* 

What a reunion that was at the circus ! Ringling was so excited that 
he actually swallowed his tobacco quid, though the accident still left 
him enough spittle to send copious streams in all directions to show his 
delight. And there was John Sheehy, six-shooter in place in coat 
pocket, beaming with pleasure. And Tiger, our four-footed cash- 
guard, leaping all over me, barking and whining with delight. And 
Prince whinnying. They were all jolly glad to see me, and my boy- 
hood friends, Charly and Reuben, laid on a festive feast in the circus 
dining tent. I must admit that when, somewhat later, I stretched out 
again in my home on wheels, I was very content to be back on the 

* Prices were of course different this was half a century ago. Translator. 



circus round again. And once again the wheels hammered out their 
rhythm of the road as they clicked over the rail joints. 

The following day, however, was not so pleasant. Running through 
the books, I found that Lee Williams had made changes to which I 
had never given my consent, and as a result had bumped up our daily 
outgoings for the three-ring circus by a cool thousand dollars. That 
was too much for so young an enterprise, and I told him at once that 
we were bound to lose money. 

One morning we were again on one of those drives to the bank 
when there was a telegram from Stellingen good news from Hein- 
rich ; he announced the birth of his third daughter. 

'Now, that sure smells like champagne,' growled John Sheehy, when 
we had dropped in to a pub to celebrate on a * Ginger-ale high-ball.' 
The bartender wished us good business and brought out another 
bottle. When we got to our wagon I ventured a little speech. In fact, 
I must say that we were really very merry indeed that day and every- 
body we came upon had to drink a glass to the health of the new-born 
squaller. I remember that somebody had lit a bonfire to clean up 
packing straw and paper decorations. And as in America it was cus- 
tomary to stop wearing straw hats dead on the stroke of September ist, 
I suddenly tore Reuben's old boater from his head and threw that too 
on the flames. For a moment he was hopping mad, then he laughed it 
away. A moment later he vanished, to reappear with a marvellous 
new panama on his head. Naturally when I wanted to get that one off 
too he put up a defence, but when at last I had bested him and put 
that thing too on the fire he laughed till I thought his sides would split. 
Only then did I discover that I had just burned my own precious new 
hat, which Reuben had kindly fetched from the truck. The score 
was now i-i, and, as Reuben said, my conscience could be clear! 

For most towns we were a new event. When I went to the local 
police for our permit, I would often be sternly asked what sort of 
card-sharping we dealt in. It was with both great firmness and great 
hope that usually I answered that in our outfit all card-sharping was 
forbidden ; if anybody were caught gambling on our ground he would 
be handed over to the police forthwith. Usually these assurances of 
mine were met with a cynical laugh, and the threat of the lock-up 
for us all if anyone among us were found indulging in gambling. 

I was still rather a greenhorn, you see, but I pretty soon learned the 
way the wind blew in America. It was on that occasion when I tried 
to sell old Ben Wallace a dozen performing elephants. If ever there 



was a dyed-in-the-wool American showman it was Wallace. 'Ele- 
phants?' he cried. 'You get to hell with them animals 1 They'd eat 
the hair right off my head and cost a fortune. If ever I want to earn 
some dollars, I think up a new game.' 

To understand Wallace, I needed no dictionary, but I did take a 
good look at the way he got the dollars out of people's pockets. 
Crowds would flock in their thousands round a stage, on which was a 
man selling lottery tickets, and all would be astonished to see that 
people were actually winning here five, there ten, even twenty 
dollars. Indeed, at first there was hardly anybody round who did not 
win something. Of course, the winners were almost all stooges of the 
man on the platform. Nor did these runners-up stint their praises of 
the system, and I can still recall an old farmer who brought out one 
ten-dollar note after another and gambled them all away. When the 
old fool fell out of the running, the worthy and enterprising gentleman 
on the platform had already relieved him of a hundred dollars. While 
this kind of circus work was still unknown in Germany, there were at 
the turn of the century many men in America making their fortunes 
at it. 

Later, when our circus seemed to have ceased to be at all profitable, 
and I at last returned to Germany, our American partners joined up 
with this very showman, Ben Wallace. Father had tried to sell the 
circus to the Ringling brothers, but by himself he was unable to per- 
suade the Ringlings to buy, so it came first to what was advertised as 
the 'joint' Hagenbeck- Wallace Show. We protested against our name 
being exploited in this way, and gave Charles Ringling full powers to 
do what he could to rescue it, but after Father's death during the first 
world war and the inflation which followed the ensuing peace, we 
simply had not the money to go to law about it. Thus it was that in 
the twenties, until at last it was sold to the Ringlings, there was a 
circus going round America calling itself the Hagenbeck- Wallace 


MAY 7TH, 1907, was a red-letter day in the Hagenbeck family, for that 
afternoon the Stellingen Animal Park opened its gates. Patent No. 
91,492 issued to my father in 1896 had materialised. Father's great 
dream was fulfilled. At the formal opening, the director of the 
Copenhagen Zoo raised his glass and made a most amusing speech, 
addressing my parents as 'the Adam and Eve of an animal paradise on 
the hanks of the Elbe.' 

Among the exotic guests was Hersy Egeh, punctual as ever in his 
arrival at Hamburg, and complete with favourite sons and daughters. 
Hersy was in full war-paint, and we noticed that the family was in- 
creasing in great strides as the years went by. The loveliest of his 
marriageable daughters was Kadidja. 

'You take her,' said Hersy to me, offering her dusky hand. The lass 
was certainly gleaming with health, but also with mutton fat, for this 
was what in Somali fashion she used for dressing her ebony hair. 

I thanked Hersy punctiliously, but declined the opportunity. Even 
though unannounced, I had, indeed, already made my choice. But I 
expressed my hope that in her own land Kadidja might find a happy 
match, perhaps of more suitable colour than myself. 

In Stellingen's opening year the gates exceeded all expectations. 
The crowds used to pour through the park in their thousands. It was 
then only half its later size. But Father counted on still higher attend- 
ances and pressed for extensions as soon as feasible. He was also a little 
worried, and not without good reason, lest the further development of 
our animal park were hindered by the building of large industrial 
plant next to us. hi order not to be squeezed into a narrow wedge of 
space between blocks of flats and factories, he quickly bought up 
with the help of friends and the banks sites all round the park. Tene- 
ment blocks even at that early date had already spread out almost to 
the city boundaries. (Stellingen, of course, was outside what was 
strictly Hamburg territory.) 

I remember once, when I was setting out for America, my mother 
suddenly enjoining me not to bring her home an American daughter- 
in-law. 'She won't be able to cook,' she said. She already had no need 










to worry. On November 9th, that year, I was able to calm all her fears 
on that score. When today I take in my hands that copy of Die Woche, 
at that time a most popular weekly magazine, and turn the pages to 
the big spread about our wedding, in all its great joy that day comes 
back to me on which my darling Else and I together began life's great 

During Hamburg's 1908 race week, the Emperor Wilhelm II paid 


a visit to our animal park. Father, Heinrich and I stood in our best 
frock-coats and top hats at the main entrance to receive the mon- 
arch. All our friends and acquaintances had showered advice on us 
how to behave, for it was a long time since we had had so elevated a 
visitor. We were on no account to address His Majesty ourselves ; we 
were to maintain a respectfully humble but yet dignified bearing ; we 
must hold our top hats in our left hands ; we must do this and we must 
on no account do that ! 

It was a little before ten when the four imperial Mercedes motor- 
cars with the familiar imperial hooters sounding roared into sight at 
high speed. In the first car I recognized the Kaiser, in naval uniform. 
For hours already the Veterans Associations of the 1 848-51 and 1870-1 
wars had been assembled, complete with standards and brass bands. 
The school children all had a holiday and our Altona police had their 
hands full to keep the route free from children. On our flagstaff the 
national flag of Prussia was topped by the black, white and red flag of 
the Reich for of course Stellingen could not forget that it was 
Prussian territory. The cheering resounded all the way from Hamburg 
to the animal park, and the crowds in the streets and squares were 

'Good morning, comrades!' cried the Kaiser to the war veterans 
as he stepped from his car. The Prussian Ambassador, Count von 
Gotzen, then presented Father, Heinrich and myself. At once the 
Kaiser's beaming goodwill and cordiality eased the stiffness of those 
first moments. 'I already know your animal park so well from the 
cinematographs, 1 said Wilhelm II, with a laugh, 'but my brother has 
told me that I really must have a look at the real thing. ' 

There followed a pleasant stroll of several hours through the park, 
which for the whole of that morning was closed to the public. Every- 
where stood our keepers, in gala uniform. It was all rather like a regi- 
mental parade, and every man heaved a sigh of relief when the august 
visitor uttered his perfunctory words of praise. While Father con- 
versed enthusiastically with the Kaiser, my brother and I gave the 
Court Marshals, the Generals, the Supreme Stable-masters and other 
members of the imperial suite whatever explanations they desired. 

In the training hall our leading tamer, Papa Schilling, showed the 
Kaiser his big mixed groups of the big carnivores. But it was the Indian 
conjurer of the Singhalese company who attracted most attention, 



and after a strenuous two and a half hours' sightseeing the Kaiser ex- 
pressed a wish to have this performer show his skill on board the 
Imperial yacht, the Hohenzollern, then lying in the harbour. 

The same afternoon, I drove in all my finery out in an elegant coach, 
together with our Indian fakir, to the landing-stage dock, where the 
Hohenzollern lay. Clearly the officers of the watch thought it was some 
oriental potentate come with his ambassador to pay court. The 
bosun's pipe shrilled and it was with much pomp that we strode under 
the blue ceiling of the landing-bridge, which had been transformed 
into a regular arbour by flowers and bunting. The watch presented arms, 
and when the officer in command received me I detected a little grin 
playing on his face. We agreed that this was probably the first time 
that a recruit whose only military service had been three weeks in 
the Count Bose Infantry Regiment No. 31 had been accorded such a 
reception. On the other hand, had I not brought the wonder of India 
to the Royal yacht? 

A dazzling company had assembled on the after-deck, among whom 
I was amused to recognise the same personalities whom so recently I 
had shown over our animal park. The Kaiser himself was in fine form, 
and kept asking me what the magician was saying. This was because 
our Indian accompanied his tricks with a regular cascade of words. But 
I had not the faintest idea what they meant. However, I used my wits 
and with my eyes keenly following the fellow's picturesque gestures 
I 'translated* away. The conjurer brought the house down when he 
asked for a ring, and threw it into the air where it vanished then 
pointed to his 'magic bag* and asked the Kaiser to take out any one of 
the oranges in it and hand it to him. Demonstrating to everybody 
that the peel of the selected orange was untouched, he split it open 
with nimble fingers, to reveal the ring stuck in the heart of it. I never 
saw the Kaiser more happy than he was at that moment. 

A few hours later the Hohenzollern weighed anchor and set course 
for Heligoland. 

In our animal park this festive day was concluded by our brass band 
playing Saro's great 'Battle Potpourri/ which in those days was as a 
rule emphasised at the high points by real volleys of rifle fire and 
salvoes of cannon. Our polar bears were quite used both to this and 
to having their northern panorama lighted by Bengal fire. On the 
other hand, the ten elephants, which our Singhalese one night rode 
down to the Eidelstedt station, were just as timid as the bears were 
brave. The point of the ride to the station was that these elephants 


1 ":-^m 


cl5^>3Tf ir f 

ciuuoui',1 .iiiuv SMIO-] -4 S jno }i> IU.MUOZCUIP uj JJPJS siojoS| . 

A lion on its wav to the cir 


were to travel to Munich for the October carnival, where we had 
built up a large menagerie and a show of exotic peoples. 

It was at Munich that my father once had the scare of his life. This 
was in 1888, during some centenary celebrations. His elephants were 
to make a triumphal march-past through Odeon Square, near which 
runs a railway. A locomotive suddenly let off steam and frightened the 
animals. One broke through the wall of a house, though once inside it 
stepped carefully over a cradle in which a baby was sleeping. Another 
elephant made its way into the Court Brewery, and is to this day 
considered the most remarkable of the visitors ever to go there. We 
had much the same mishap on the night that this particular group of 
elephants were to go to Munich. A shunting engine with gleaming 
head lanterns suddenly came rattling and hissing along near by, and 
the elephants took fright. They just seemed all at once to leave the 
ground without a sound, and before the Indian mahouts had picked 
themselves up off the ground where they were pitched, the whole 
herd had stampeded and was tearing through the suburbs of Stellingen, 
Eidelstedt and Lokstedt. The adventures of that night are still fireside 

There was, for instance, the gentleman who came home rather late 
and was fumbling for the keyhole when he seemed to see an elephant 
peep round the corner of his house. That shook him badly, but he 
tried not to be scared, and told himself that he was not really quite so 
pickled. Besides, one saw white mice, did one not, when one had 
D.T.s, and he was hardly going to believe that even if he were in 
such a condition he would see elephants. To make quite sure, he 
crept quietly round the house to see the same elephant, back view, 
scratching its brawny shoulder cosily on the corner of the wall. 
That did awaken the homecomer. He scrambled up the balcony 
railing, rang my father up and when at last he got through said 
meekly. 'Mr Hagenbeck, if you've lost an elephant, it's in my front 

Father of course still knew nothing, so he concluded that this was 
a practical joker and banged the receiver down very angrily. It was 
only when later he saw all the lights were on in the park and the 
police began to rally all our elephant keepers that he realised that his 
night call had been quite genuine ! 

However, by early morning it proved possible to tether most of 
the truants to trees, though a female which we called Ceylon was not 
located till the following afternoon. She was deep in the woods out 


6 AML 


at Pinneberg, and had to be led home by our Stellingen working 
elephant Roma. 

One good burgher's summer-house was destroyed during that 
night's gallivanting, but fortunately the field damage at which 
elephants are most expert was very slight and soon settled with 
moderate sums in ready cash plus free tickets. When we reviewed the 
whole event, we found that the person who was apparently least 
disturbed of all was a certain little old lady out in her garden. When 
she saw an elephant coming her way she quickly bolted her rickety 
little wicket-gate, and ran up to it with her open umbrella. 'No, no,' 
she cried, 'don't you come into my garden, or I'll give you what for!' 
Whether the elephant was really frightened, or just had a sense of 
humour, I cannot say, but the fact is that it did come to a dead stop 
at her feeble little gate and did not even try to get into the tempting 

Every spring my parents went to the French Riviera for several 
weeks' holiday. They generally chose Nice, and there my father made 
the acquaintance of the young American John Millen. Being, like 
every good Yankee, a keen business man, Millen was running an 
ostrich farm in the South of France, for at the time there was a great 
fashion for what were called pleureuses and boas, both of which articles 
of feminine adornment required ostrich feathers. The Mediterranean 
climate suited both farmer and stock, so it was easy for Millen to 
produce magnificent specimens of the feathers with which the ladies 
on the fashionable promenades of Nice decorated their cart-wheel 
hats. This struck my father forcibly and he told himself that he might 
do the same, which with his temperament was equivalent to getting 
it done. Without hesitation he engaged John Mill en's services, and 
thus Germany acquired its first ostrich farm at Stellingen. The 
moment Father had got it started, in came the breeding stock blue- 
legged varieties from Somaliland and giant red-necked birds from 
West Africa, and these selected breeding specimens were crossed. 

To hatch out the eggs, which the ostrich buries lightly in sand, the 
modern incubator was substituted for the burning sunshine of Africa, 
maintaining a temperature of 113 F., and in about forty-one days 
ostrich chicks hatched out. Devising a foster-mother was not so easy. 
John Millen had to turn the eggs every day and twice a week expose 
them for a time to fresh air and wash them over with lukewarm water. 

Ostrich eggs on the average equal from twenty-six to twenty-eight 
ordinary domestic fowls' eggs, but the biggest I ever handled equalled 



thirty-six ordinary eggs. It was double-yolked, and from it a great 
rarity hatched two healthy chicks. Unfortunately, however, they 
shared their navel string. Painstakingly, they were separated, but they 
lived only a few days. 

The young ostriches followed their foster-father Millen every- 
where. At first he fed them with fresh ostrich eggs, then passed over 
to chopped lucerne and finally to shredded meat to serve as sub- 
stitute for the insects on which ostriches feed in their native land. 
The little ostriches hatched out as spiny as hedgehogs. In their third 
year the cock birds acquired their black feathering, with fine tufts 
of white plumage, but the hen birds remained grey all over. Our 
Hamburg air induced a remarkably thick feathering, so that when 
eventually we supplied Stellingen ostrich cock birds to South African 
farms for breeding purposes the farmers were most grateful. 

On June 2ist, 1909, this pioneer German ostrich farm was opened 
by the Empress. Adjacent, we had our own workshops, where women 
workers goffered pleureuses for the market, till Queen Fashion de- 
throned that particular form of feminine decoration and all the 
ostrich farmers of the world had to think up something else to do. 

I have, I think, rarely known a more stupid creature than the 
ostrich. Not, of course, that he really does stick his head in the sand, 
as our comic papers would have us believe, for when they are frighten- 
ed they just flap their wings excitedly and run, with enormous strides, 
zigzagging away from what has scared them. But I have seen something 
which I find even more stupid, and that is an ostrich which, having 
stuck its head between the bars of its cage, just had not the sense to 
see how to get it out again. Having far more power in its legs than its 
brain, it had not tried any manoeuvring, but just pulled till its 
head came right off. We found it decapitated, body inside, head lying 
on the ground outside the cage ! 

Ostrich gizzards 'stomach' things which no other creature would 
stand coins, rings, keys, pencils and pebbles are not, I think, par- 
ticularly nutritive, but ostriches readily pick them up and swallow 
them. In the gizzard of one newly imported bird we actually found 
some copper nails. The points and the heads had already been nearly 
eaten away by the digestive juices, which are very strong, and the nails 
shone as if polished. Father had one set in a gold tie-pin and gave it to 
John Millen as a memento. 


IN AUGUST 1909 it was once again 'pack your bags! 1 Dr. Schneider- 
mann, head of the Argentine State Railways, had written to my father 
and asked him if he could take to Buenos Aires a zoological circus like 
that which had been sent to St. Louis. It was wanted as part of the 
centenary celebrations of the foundation of the republic. There was 
at the same time to be a Railway Exhibition and an Agricultural Show 
and the Argentinians guaranteed a good gate for our circus. The agri- 
cultural show particularly interested us, for, in addition to our own 
circus, we undertook to transport to the Argentine the animals which 
were going to be exhibited by the Agricultural Society of Germany. 

So off we went to Buenos Aires ! One conference followed the 
other. The exhibition ground was on the outskirts of Palermo, which 
is a rich residential suburb of Buenos Aires, to which good roads, 
however, had still to be constructed. But the city authorities guaran- 
teed that this would be achieved in time and that there would be a 
water supply. 

I had, however, scarcely completed my fourth day in the 'city of 
good air* when there was Father telegraphing to me to come back. 
Decisions were not coming through quickly enough for the old boy ! 
Father had never heard of that period of time known as manana. If we 
were going to get ready at our usual speed, there was nothing for it 
but immediately to take out workers and carpenters from Hamburg. 

I returned home and went to see the large Stromeyer tent-making 
concern at Konstanz. From them I ordered a free-hanging marquee 
two hundred and forty feet by one hundred and five feet. I also put in 
hand an imposing facade for the circus main entrance to this. While 
Father and Heinrich began getting together the show animals and the 
performing animals I set sail back again on the Cap Arcona for Buenos 
Aires, this time taking my wife and eighteen-month-old son Carl 
Lorenz with me. This was my first big journey en famille, and whereas 
previously I had had to see that my elephants did not get constipated 
and my dromedaries did not get the scab, now I had other cares not so 
very different. Carlo, as we called him, bawled his head off, my better 
half went down chronically seasick, and our maid Paula was soon 



keeping her company. Hence it was I who traipsed between galley 
and cabin with baby's bottle, in an effort at least by nigh^ to placate 

Paula, however, was fairly soon on her feet again. But now the sea 
air gave her a remarkable appetite, and before we reached Buenos 
Aires our luck ran out again, for the girl began to complain of cramp 
in her limbs. At last Else got her to bed as preparation for calling in 
the doctor, only, surprisingly, to find that no doctor was necessary 
for the diagnosis. Paula had simply got so fat that her underclothes 
worn rather voluminously in those days were hindering her circula- 
tion, for in three weeks the girl had put on thirty-six pounds in 
flesh! When certain mysterious operations with scissors and needle 
and cotton had been effected, Paula's crippling cramp rapidly dis- 
appeared. Indeed, she now slept so soundly that no baby could have 
bawled loudly enough to waken her, and when on one occasion she fell 
out of her bunk, which was an upper one, it was to be found the next 
morning still sound asleep on her bedding on the floor. I myself did 
not enjoy such peace, for hot on my heels, only a fortnight away, was 
a steamer conveying an army of carpenters and building material. My 
contract specified that the show must be ready by the end of April. 

What made the sensation in Buenos Aires was our collection of 
carnivorous animals without cages. To show our fierce pets as we 
wished, deep moats still had to be dug and concreted. When I re- 
joined the family at the Plaza Hotel in Buenos Aires, after my first 
trip out to Palermo, I had the depressing conviction that by the time 
we had completed all that constructional work the whole exhibition 
would be over. However, in the end the only thing which was ready 
was our Exposition Carlos Hagenbeck, and that on the dot too. And just 
as keenly on time the Santa Elena came with our animal tamers and 
their animals, men and beasts alike already world famous. There, 
leaning over the ship's rail, waving, was Richard Sawade, a true 
gentleman of the central cage the man from whose sleigh an en- 
thusiastic Russian audience had once unharnessed the horses, to draw 
it to his hotel by hand together with all the presents the Tsar and the 
Grand Dukes had showered on him. 

Sawade, a school-teacher's son from Drossen, had with him that 
celebrated lion-producer Claire Heliot, an outstanding animal tamer 
of the day, a man who for generations ahead set an example of how to 
do it. Further, there were Fritz Schilling with his twenty polar bears, 
Corradini the Italian with his elephants; there were zebras, horses 


and dogs, while Captain Nansen's sea-lions were bellowing excitedly 
in their tank-wagon and Hans Schroder's chimpanzees were doing a 
little advance practice work on deck on their bicycles. 

Our band of eighteen instruments now took up stations forward and 
struck up the Argentinian national anthem. But as it took rather 
longer than they anticipated to bring the steamer properly up to the 
quay, the conductor played far more verses than the anthem envisages. 
This had rather an unfortunate result, for it was the South Americans' 
custom always to listen to their anthem bareheaded, and the crowds 
began to get irritated at having to suffer so much sunshine on their 
bare heads. A mutter of complaint arose, but the band was making 
such a din that our good bandmaster took absolutely no notice of my 
shouting. I was in the end compelled to throw something at him to 
attract his attention. I succeeded at last with a banana! 

While our carpenters, decorators, electricians and tent makers 
were erecting our buildings and tents, I was frequently the guest of my 
good friend Dr. Clemente Onelli, of the Buenos Aires Zoo. For, if I 
may put it like that, animal handlers the wide world over have a 
language in common, the language of the heart. It was, incidentally, in 
Onelli 's zoo that my marriage suffered its first serious contretemps. 
Carlo had just begun to toddle, and of course he wanted to feed the 
monkeys with a packet of 'bikkies.' In the particular cage which he 
chose there was a big family of capuchin monkeys bounding about, and 
I knew what vicious little beasts they can be. So I said: No! But 
Mamma said: Yes! 'Do let him have his little amusement,' insisted 
my good Else. And so it went on : No ! Yes ! No ! Yes ! when sud- 
denly Carlo, taking proper advantage of this parental dispute, went up 
to the cage and held out his hand. Then the fun began. With his little 
hands already nastily scratched, I got him away just in time, or the 
savage little creatures would certainly have pulled them through into 
the cage and bitten them, to get him to open that tight little fist in 
which he held those biscuits. 

I tell this story because unfortunately I still often see parents at our 
animal park lift their children up over the fence to 'shake hands with 
the monkeys. 1 These delightful monkeys may equally well be baboons 
or orang-utans or chimpanzees, by whom one of our keepers was once 
so badly mauled that he had to have his arm amputated. 

But of course I did not pay visits to the Buenos Aires Zoo to squabble 
with my wife in the monkey-house, but because it had zoological 
rarities, in the shape of sea-elephants and penguins, which for a long 



time had not been seen in any German zoo. When these particu- 
lar animals were brought to Buenos Aires, I had gone on board the 
steamer with Onelli and met the Norwegian captain who had caught 
them, and arranged with him that when he made his next voyage out 
he should take one of our animal trappers with him. 

It was many years before this that over a cup of coffee at our Stellin- 
gen home the captain of the Valdivia expedition had told my father 
about these mighty seals. I had at the time got quite excited about the 
idea of acquiring some of those unknown animals for our animal park. 
I remember father squinting at me over his spectacles and saying: 
'That will never be more than a dream, while I am alive.' 

Now at last the realisation of the dream was at hand. I sent Johannes 
Pallenberg, a brother of the Diisseldorf sculptor, to the Antarctic, 
and here is an extract from his story. 

'Our steamer loaded provisions and coal for a Norwegian 
whaling outpost, which we reached after nine days' voyage south. 
Enormous icebergs, a terrible stink and vast flights of Cape pigeons 
and seagulls soon indicated our goal, where at this time of the year 
one hundred and forty Norwegians were reducing a thousand 
whales to thirty-five thousand barrels of whale-oil. They also had 
a permit to slaughter sea-elephants five thousand bulls a season. 

'It made my heart bleed to have to behold that mass slaughter of 
animals which would have enriched any zoo in the world. From afar 
off I could distinguish the huge bodies of these powerful long- 
muzzled seals, which lay asleep there on the shore like rocks worn 
smooth by the waves. Not one of them took the least notice of us, 
and only rarely when one came close to one of the old bulls would 
it rear up, puff out its balloon-like snout and begin a primitive 
bellowing. Each of these old pashas, which were often fifteen to 
twenty or more feet long, lay surrounded by his harem of thirty or 
forty wives, some of which had recently calved young ones, which 
were almost entirely black. 

'Without delay the slaughterers began their butchery. Incessantly 
now the shots aimed at the neck rent the air, otherwise filled 
with the roar of the breakers, the harsh cries of sea-birds and the 
bellowing of the sea-elephants. The slaughtered bulls were stripped 
of their meat without delay. I wandered farther, and soon found 
myself in the heart of a huge colony of penguins, in which the 
magnificent large king penguins were the most striking. It was no 



great art to catch these. One only needed a stout glove, for they 
could give you a nasty nip, and a bag in which to take them home. 
'A net was now cast over three young sea-elephants and dragged 
by a couple of men over the shingle and into the boat, a task not 
made at all easy by the heavy breakers. We took it in turns, stand- 
ing in the ice-cold water, and one boat was completely wrecked. ' 

Meantime the Cap Arcona, the proud flagship of the Hamburg- 
South America line, had been back home again and now brought 
Father and Mother out to Buenos Aires. Between decks travelled 
Hersy Egeh's curly-headed tribe, and with him were his movable 
belongings from Somaliland. I went on board to meet my parents. My 
mother was very happy indeed, for this was the very first time she 
had been able to make a big Atlantic voyage with my father and, 
incidentally, crossing the line met Neptune, his astronomers and his 
barber. With pride she showed me her equatorial baptismal birth 
certificate, on which the gallant Lord of the Seas had christened our 
dear mother 'Sea-rose.' 

Father was delighted to find all the work so well advanced, and 
both were very pleased to be able to dandle their first male grandson 
on their knees again. However, such idyllic domestic matters did not 
detain Father long. He was far too restless a spirit for that, and as he 
had already had three weeks of inactivity on the crossing, he was 
fidgety to get at something. He now spent all his time out at the 
exhibition ground, and if only he had been able to have a say in matters 
outside our border-line, he would have transformed the whole of 
that lackadaisically progressing work into an ant-heap of furious 

Mother, who did not know a single word of Spanish, was soon as 
practised as the most finished telephone operator, for she had con- 
stantly to be on the spot, handling telegrams and even conversations. 
It was never at all clear to me how she contrived to do this, but she 
was a determined woman, was my mother, and anyway she already 
had a lifetime behind her of marriage to my father ! 

One day, Father dictated to Mother a cable to Uncle John in 
Colombo. To improve our show, Uncle John was at once to send us 
twenty devil dancers. But those Udacki dancers, who with their devil 
masks had worked wonders in North America and Europe, were 
never going to cut much ice here, for being themselves a mixture of 



all shades of colour from pitch-black to white coffee-colour in Buenos 
Aires, the South Americans were not impressed by exotic peoples. 
Our Somalis were quite sufficient for those who did like such shows. 
So with Mother's consent, I held that telegram up, and when later 
Father asked when we could expect the party from Ceylon we ex- 
plained the position to him. I thought he would have had a stroke. He 
simply exploded with fury and thundered at me that it was the duty of 
a son to obey his father. 'You do what you want/ he yelled, 'but 
what I want to have done shall be done. 1 

However, the old boy was not to grumble longer than to his sixty- 
sixth birthday, celebrated out there, for on that occasion I presented 
him with something which he never dreamed he would have, and 
which afforded him such delight that tears trickled down his cheeks. 
He held my hand, and all his smouldering anger with the disobedient 
son vanished, for before his eyes were trumpeting seventy penguins, 
of all species, from proud king penguins with yellow chops to the 
small spectacle penguins, while just beneath them, the greatest birth- 
day surprise of all, were three priceless sea-elephants ! 

Father celebrated his birthday together with the whole of our staff 
in the huge canteen hut behind the circus. My parents presided at a 
laden table, and the large elephant which the Italian Corradini had 
trained was to present Father with a bouquet. Jumbo did so, with an 
additional attraction which had not been planned for. For the gang- 
way down which he had to pass was rather narrow. Moreover, on the 
way he passed the kitchen and a serving hatch, in front of which, on 
the canteen side, was a broad shelf. To Jumbo this seemed one of the 
best back-scratching appliances he had ever struck, so while with all 
his best grace he reached his trunk over the table and presented the 
flowers, he heaved his voluminous hindquarters up against the hatch, 
manoeuvred his tail neatly through this into the freer space of the 
kitchen, and with deep, contented grunts proceeded to scratch his 
carcase, and so engrossed did he get in the enjoyment of this that he 
became quite rhythmic in his movements, until the whole building 
was quivering perilously with the music. I do not think I have 
ever seen Mother or Father laugh so heartily before, and indeed 
we all laughed together with them, laughed till the walls literally 

The other noteworthy point of the party was the pikce de resistance 
roast hare ! For there were two friendly estancieros, as they call farmers 
in the Argentine, who had asked me to go shooting with them. And 



I would gladly have gone, had I had time, but had been compelled to 
decline. Then let us send you round a couple of hares/ they said, and 
I accepted the kind offer, without thinking that the wag was going to 
send me a consignment of no less than two hundred and fifty hares, 
neatly ranged on poles, filling a whole large lorry. We all, every man 
jack in Hagenbeck's employ, ate hare all day long, till even the most 
long-suffering ran up the flag and capitulated. We fed the remainder 
to the animals. 

I had had our carpenters make huge boxes, like those we used for 
our sea-lions, for the oversea transport of the sea-elephants. They 
could sun themselves on a platform inside, or spend all day in fresh 
sea-water in a pool on the ground floor. We were still without the 
necessary experience as to food for them, but it so happens that I had 
noticed young live eels about as long as one's finger on sale in the 
Vigo fish market. So I tried these and was delighted afterwards to hear 
from Father that our sea-elephants loved them. Thus in 1910 the 
first sea-elephants to be shown alive in Europe travelled back to 
Hamburg as the personal suite of my dear old father. 

The atmosphere of Buenos Aires was now charged with political 
storms. In any case, revolutions are endemic in South American 
politics, and need never be taken very seriously. In those days it often 
thundered, and there were also often strikes. One incidental conse- 
quence of this disturbed climate was that the Buenos Aires Inter- 
national Exhibition was really not officially opened till after Father 
had long been back at Stellingen with his sea-elephants and his 
penguins ! 

Now I was to have my surprise. When we had had the fuss about 
that Colombo telegram, my father had not mentioned the matter 
again. But what he had done was to find ways and means both of 
getting his own way and of respecting my misgivings. So, to my horror, 
there suddenly arrived, not twenty devil dancers, but ten of them ! 
And just as I was fetching them from the ship a messenger ran up to 
me with the terrible news that the monkey-houses were on fire ! 

This exhibition was partly a show attached to the circus, partly a 
museum. There were skeletons of the anthropoid apes in glass show- 
cases. There was a giant gorilla a good seven and a half feet high with 
menacingly gaping jaws, escaping into the virgin jungle with a shriek- 
ing black woman under its arm ! Of course, the man who stuffed that 
gorilla was really doing the animal a great injustice. An exhibit like 
that might do in an amusement park, but it was not suitable for a 



museum. But now with the heat of the fire the glass broke and the 
contents of the case were destroyed. It was an ill wind indeed, for 
everything was highly insured, so I was not at all sorry to see the 
'disaster* clear out items which I did not really like. 

Rather glad to have got rid of that particular museum rubbish in 
so easy a fashion, I telegraphed to my father. But by return the 
irrepressible old dear cabled back to tell me that he was going to 
dispatch a replacement gorilla exhibit and also a 'giant snake attrac- 
tion.' As the ocean separated us, I summoned sufficient courage on this 
occasion to telegraph my stern opposition, for, large snakes being as 
common in South America as mice are in Germany, there was no 
attraction whatsoever in that item. 

A terrible event was soon to be the subject of another cable. In his 
big carnivores group Richard Sawade had a young tiger which he had 
brought up from infancy. It was called Nik and was his great pet. It 
used to go round with him like a big sheep-dog. But one evening none 
other than this tiger attacked him and ripped up his shoulder and 
upper arm. Fortunately, Sawade was able to grip a bar of the cage 
with the other hand, and, being a man of athletic strength beyond the 
ordinary, he succeeded in preventing the animal getting at his neck. 
His fearless assistant, Rudolf Matthies, came running up and as close 
as possible fired blank cartridges into the tiger's jaws, and the wooden 
cap of the cartridge, at that short range, hit the animal. Indeed, some 
splinters also wounded Sawade in the back, but the necessary result 
was achieved the tiger at once began to gnaw at its own wounds, and 
with his wooden pole Matthies could drive the animal away. 

We all held our breath. Slowly, Sawade loosened his hold on the bar. 
Everybody expected him to fall. But, his face contorted with pain, 
he now went back into the ring, drove all his animals out of the 
central cage, bowed rather curtly, and only then, streaming with 
blood, collapsed in the paddock. 

Thank Heaven, medical aid was immediately at hand. The surgeons 
of the German hospital saved his life. For weeks he lay, terribly hurt, 
struggling against the blood poisoning which is so frequently a com- 
plication of carnivorous animal wounds. A lung inflammation hindered 
the recovery, which this brave man later general manager of our 
travelling circus owed solely to iron will and an iron constitution. 

A carnivorous animal always remains a carnivorous animal. Whether 
caught fully grown or brought up from infancy on the bottle makes no 
difference whatsoever. Gratitude and faithfulness are virtues in our 


human ambit of emotions, and not to be imagined unconditionally into 
animals, which are in the power of other instincts. 

After this accident, Rudolf Matthies took over Sawade's animal 
group, from which of course I removed the attacker. Matthies not 
only did his outstanding teacher every honour, but himself became a 
first-class tiger trainer, the only one, indeed, later to be awarded the 
German Animal Protection Medal. 


HEINRICH AND I were to be permitted scarcely three years of collabora- 
tion with my father on his Stellingen life's work, for on April i4th, 
1913, after months of painful illness, he passed away. To the very end, 
however, he kept a firm hand on his great enterprise. When in 1910 I 
returned from Buenos Aires, Father was pressing forward with the 
work of creating his Stellingen Animal Park at the highest possible 
speed. About this time, the famous American inventor, Edison, 
brought his whole family to see Stellingen. With the assistance of our 
Swiss friend, Urs Eggenschwyler, Heinrich also undertook the con- 
struction of a zoo for Rome, and a whole goods train of animals crossed 
the Brenner from Stellingen to the Eternal City. Father also went to 
the Adriatic to establish a tropical animal acclimatisation station on 
the now Yugoslav island of Brioni. At Stellingen there was a constant 
coming and going of Eskimos, Indians, Samoyedes, Kikuyus and Masais 
to keep the ethnographical exhibition constantly new. Matthias 
Walter, at last recovered from the trials of his dromedary expedition, 
took a large contingent of animals to the Sultan of Morocco, who had 
had a private zoo built, and this too we equipped with animals, all 
of which arrived safe and sound. Even the polar bears stood the African 
heat. Strange though it may seem, the only casualty was a tiger which 
actually went down with heat-stroke ! 

At Stellingen the sea-elephants were housed in a specially con- 
structed Arctic Panorama setting. More and more animal houses and 
special compounds were constantly being added for the new animals 
which were coming in. Our best tiger catcher at this time was 
Christoph Schulz, who later took over our animal-catching outpost at 
Arusha on Mount Kilimanjaro. Schulz wrote a book on his adventures 
in the African bush. He was still quite a young man when his friend 
Petersen, who was working with him as animal catcher in the basin of 
the River Rufiji, was killed. The following letter from the bush gives 
a more vivid picture than any second-hand description can of what 
Schulz went through. 




'Mohoro, Christmas 1910. 

'Dear Mr. Hagenbeck, 

'I have a terrible accident to report. I reached Petersen here at 
Mohoro on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Morning Petersen said: 
"I say, Schulz, let's go and kill our Christmas dinner." We went 
out a mile or so into the bush and sighted some waterbucks, but 
did not get a shot. 

'We then followed a buffalo trail, and sighted the animal at a 
distance of about three hundred and eighty yards. I said, "You 
shoot, because I only have a shotgun with me." He said, "Let's 
make more sure of him." So we went in closer. All at once the 
buffalo stormed up out of the bush, only three paces from us. 1 
leapt to one side, he brushed by me and knocked me into a thorn 
thicket. I was lucky, because the angry animal then lost sight of me. 
But it turned at once and got poor Petersen on his horns. It tossed 
him ten feet into the air, caught him again on its horns, and I heard 
Pctersen's bones smash. Horrible. 

'Now here I am cut off from the whole world. The nearest 
Europeans are three hours away. Dar-es-Salaarn is one hundred and 
twenty miles and Mohoro is two and a half days from here. 

'I had dragged Petersen back here, then buried him. He was 
two hundred yards from his house, frightfully mutilated. I am now 
quite alone. Early this morning the District Commissioner passed 
this way and recorded the accident. 

'I am bringing Petersen's animals and the seven hundred pounds 
of hippopotamus teeth back with me. I have got planking, but no 
assistance. If only I had the forty-eight packing cases ready which I 
shall need. I have three weeks left, before the little river steamer 
comes. It halts three hours' distance from here. The road is poor. 
I must get away from this, I cannot forget the sight of it. Do please 
write to his parents. They are elderly folk. If you were to say 
he is ill, that would prepare them for it. I am not ashamed to 
say that when I buried him I wept; the tears are running as I 

'I have ten other hippopotami at Kilva. I shall do what you wrote, 
Mr. Hagenbeck. I hope to be in Hamburg in early March. 

'Yours very truly, 
'Christoph Schulz.' 



About this time, our attempts to cross pedigree German cattle 
and the Indian zebu, to produce a disease-resistant tropical breed, 
had awakened the interest of the German Emperor, who also had 
such experiments put in hand at his Cadinen country estate in West 
Prussia. In September 1908 he had invited my father and brother to a 
visit to West Prussia, and Father returned with the Royal Prussian 
title of Commercial Counsellor. But although of course he was in one 
way very pleased with the distinction, Father definitely disliked being 
addressed as by German custom he should thereafter have been 
as 'Mr. Counsellor Hagenbeck. ' 

Father was now at the height of his career. He had his own entry in 
German encyclopaedias, which described him as 'the well-known 
animal dealer and circus manager, author of Of Beasts and Men.' This 
book* soon sold to the tune of a hundred thousand copies in Germany 
and was translated into the principal European languages. Meanwhile, 
our former bandmaster, Max Winterfeld, a Hamburg man himself, 
had made his mark as a light opera composer in Berlin, under the pro- 
fessional name of Jean Gilbert. His tunes were on everybody's lips. 
One of the songs of his popular musical, Dollie, took all Germany by 
storm. The refrain was 'Let's go round to Hagenbeck's, to Hagen- 
beck's, to Hagenbeck's . . .' As a march, it became our signature tune, 
and when the public joined in they added their own words. In the 
North they sang: 'And we'll take all the monkeys out.' In the South 
it was : 'There is a pig gone crackers there . . .' 

I think it is rather up to me to reproduce here the original text of 
the theme song which has helped to broadcast our name : 

However remote a spot it is 

Where monkeys live the fear's the same. 

Back of beyond the bogy's real 

And Hagenbeck the bogy's name. 

from the remotest jungle places 

He brings the tigers and the Iions 9 

And with some silly native folk 

He puts the beasties through their paces. 

But yet the nicest animal there 
Is Mr. Hagenbeck's teddy-bear. 

* Published in London by Messrs. Longmans in an abridged edition in 1909. 




let's all go round to Hagenbeck's, Hagenbeck's, Hagenbeck's. 

That's where the road for us should end, at Hagenbeck's, at Hagenbeck's. 

Let's all go round to Hagenbeck's, Hagenbeck's, Hagenbeck's, 

It's dandy to have a teddy like those at Hagenbeck's. 

Unhappily, the closing years of my father's life were overshadowed 
by illness. Eventually he had to be wheeled in a bath chair through his 
animal park. But still he worked hard to realise a new plan which 
enjoyed the support of the Kaiser he was to plan a still larger open- 
air zoo in Berlin itself. 

About one thing, however, Father had no longer any illusions : the 
Hamburg Municipality was not going to contribute a single penny 
towards Stellingen, for though Hamburg had long since reached that 
suburb, it was still 'outside the city's boundaries.' Though Father 
never spoke of it, it was no secret to us how bitter it made him never 
to have succeeded in finding a site in his native Hamburg both large 
and central enough. This had meant that in the first year, even though 
the takings were very good they were still insufficient to cover the high 
costs, not to speak of any return on the capital invested. Then, as 
today, the five profitable summer months which the Hamburg climate 
offers were never good enough to cover the seven lean winter and 
transitional months. 

Moreover, by this date, almost all zoological gardens were regarded 
as more or less public amenities which it was right and proper to 
subsidise. They were maintained by urban authorities side by side with 
museums, theatres and other cultural enterprises. Thus, at Hamburg 
the rates supported another zoo, on the present-day Botanical Gardens 
site. Here at one time Alfred Edmund Brehm the creator of Brehm's 
Life of Animals had been director. But now this was an old-fashioned 
institution which could not compare with Stellingen, even though, in 
distinction from our animal park, it was subsidised. Even in 1930, 
when Stellingen was brought into the ambit of Greater Hamburg, and 
the principal Zoological Gardens were moved out to the Dammtor, 
there was no improvement in the unsatisfactory traffic links with 

When in 1912 the first underground railway of Hamburg was in- 
augurated it ran empty. It was not till free tickets were issued to 
children that the grown-ups overcame their fear of the new 'tunnel 
railway.' We tried hard then to have the underground line continued 



out to the animal park, but in vain. Today it is only the No, 16 trams 
which pass the entrance. Previously there was also the No. 10, of 
which forty years ago those Hamburg humorists, the Wolff brothers, 

'Hurry along there to the No. 10. 
You really must see the Hagenbecks. 
It's the same picture every dcy y 
The Stellingen trams are crowded out 
Everybody cramming in, 
Till the single cage is full, 
the wfor all the world the same 
As a Hagenbeck Zoo pantechnicon .' 

In those days Heinrich and I found ourselves making numerous trips 
to Berlin, to business discussions with Imperial Verderer Wrobel. As 
a result of these, we concluded a contract by which we acquired the 
development rights of some one hundred and twenty-five acres of the 
Jungfern Heath. As a matter of fact, Heinrich and I were really 
opposed to this new burden, for in our opinion it was going to strain 
our financial resources too far. But Father was always enterprisingly 
confident of the future and would not hear any talk of the increasing 
danger of a new war. 

'All nations have got their bit today,* he would always say. 'There 
won't ever be another war like that of 1870-1 !' 

In this latter statement, he was quite right but not at all in the 
way he meant. It was, I must confess, becoming a little difficult to 
work in together with a sick man. Often enough, we kept letters and 
newspapers from him, not to excite him too much, but the old saw 
about a prophet not being heard in his own territory was certainly 
true as far as my father went. 

Today his revolutionary idea of showing wild animals in conditions 
of liberty is the generally accepted standard of all zoos. Not one of 
them can do without the installations which we first tried out at 
Stellingen. But in those days it was such a sensation to see lions without 
iron bars that when visitors came in and first saw the completely open 
lion pit they used to start back in alarm. Soon, however, we had to 
limit the crowds by having special admission to that part of the 

At the time, however, we also had a sufficiency of critics whose 
pens were guided more by envy than anything else. They attempted 


7 AML 


to make out my father's work to be mere showmanship or even hum- 
bug. What in those days were called 'Zoological Gardens' were at 
best well-kept museums with live animals shut up in them, sorted and 
labelled by species for purposes of comparison. The general public, 
however, from the very start took Father's side, and as no zoo can 
keep its doors open without visitors installations like ours went up 
in Europe and America, and before the first patent was extinguished 
in the first world war we supplied many sets of plans and models of 
Stellingen constructions. 

In the summer of 1913 came a visit from one of London's most 
famous impresarios, Charles B. Cochran, later knighted. Cochran 
had his worries, for the largest city in the world always expected 
something new for its winter season from a showman so productive 
of surprises as he was. Basing ourselves on our experience at St. Louis 
and Buenos Aires, we offered to construct our new-style free con- 
ditions for animals of all climes, in London's giant Olympia Hall, and 
we said we would cap it all with a circus programme to put all 
previous shows of the sort in the shade. Cochran was most 

Thus it came to 'Carl Hagenbeck's Wonder Zoo and Big Circus,' 
which was set up inside the Olympia Hall under Heinrich's direction, 
while in addition to our groups of performing animals I was to ensure 
that we engaged all that was best in the circuses of Germany, and 
bring it all to London, three ships-full of new items. The demand of 
London's eight millions was so great that from Boxing Day to February 
28th we put on two shows daily and sold every seat. In his Secrets of 
a Showman Cochran later said that the Wonder Zoo and Big Circus 
'was a stupendous affair,' and the circus part of it 'the finest pro- 
gramme ever staged in a single ring.'* 

The first world war, however, drew a line through any repetition 
of such a peak display of Europe's circus art. It was England's circus 
king, Bertram Mills, who became the manager of the subsequent 
Olympia shows, which his sons Cyril and Bernard to this day con- 
tinue with great success every Christmas. Indeed, they have become 
one of the social events of London's winter season. 

Shortly before he died, my father conceived the new idea of build- 
ing an entirely new sort of monkey-house. I can see him now, propped 
up in bed on his pillows, sketching plan after plan. He did not think 
it feasible to keep monkeys completely at liberty, but I thought I had a 

* Cochran: The Secrets of a Showman, pp. 184-7. 



better idea than his for enclosing them without robbing them of 
essential freedom of movement. This was to pile up huge rocks, like 
those one finds in North Africa. Such cliffs are the favourite resort of 
the baboon, for in them they find the almost vertical rock faces which 
offer them a safe retreat from their principal enemy, the leopard. My 
idea was to place my rock pile inside a sort of empty swimming pool, 
up the smooth outer edges of which the monkeys would not be able 
to climb. The outer wall was to be completely smooth on the inside 
and also lean inwards. 

I unfolded my scheme to my father and showed him how I imagined 
it could be carried out. Heinrich backed me, and, having had some 
practice at this sort of thing, he made a plaster model. This without 
warning we placed on Father's bed and tensely waited to see his re- 
action. For a long time he examined the little plaster rocks from all 
angles. Then, slowly and deliberately, without a word he tore up all his 
own plans. His blue eyes fixed on us, bright and keen. 'Youngsters,' 
he said, 'you can do it far better now than I can ; go ahead ! ' 

Originally we proposed to construct special living quarters for the 
baboons inside the mass of rocks, to be easy to heat whenever we 
needed. But when the stove was first lighted, our pile of rock with 
smoke emerging from the concealed chimney at the top looked 
ridiculously like a miniature Vesuvius. It was too grotesque. Heinrich 
therefore had a tunnel cut under the outer protective wall to a nearby 
heated living house, to which the animals could have recourse in frosty 
weather as they found fit. We were very curious to see how the 
monkeys were going to take this little surprise we had prepared for 
them. We watched. There was a first-night sort of tension in the air 
when the wagon, with two hundred Abyssinian hooded baboons, was 
drawn up at the entrance. 

With many a grunt and furtive sniff, the animals clambered swiftly 
up the rocks, and from on top surveyed the whole scene. The first 
surprise, after a long sea journey suddenly finding themselves at 
liberty again, was soon followed by the second surprise, to find their 
freedom was limited, and all this was reflected in their lively counten- 
ances and excited cries. It was an all-round testing out of our theory, 
and it worked, up to a point, or rather, up to a line, namely up to a 
crack in the cement face of the outer wall. This was soon discovered 
by a smart jumper who was up and out before you could say Jack 
Robinson ! When the following day a builder appeared with a ladder 
to eliminate that possibility of escape, itSvas amusing to observe the 



quickness with which those monkeys had assessed the situation. A 
number of young ones watched the proceedings not only carefully but 
with much thought. 'Oeh, oeh, oeh,' they chattered to one another, 
as with easy, quick strokes the builder on the ladder proceeded to 
make the cement surface smooth. Now or never, they must have decided 
at once, and no sooner said than done, for all at once they had clam- 
bered up on to the flabbergasted builder's back and over him, and 
were beckoning to their comrades to follow them. With considerable 
presence of mind, the human ladder climbed out of the pit and pulled 
the other ladder up after him. Seeing themselves now surrounded by 
some Somalis who were staying with us at Stellingen at the time, the 
escapees all leapt back into their compound, and our trouble was 
over. Very soon the monkeys had taken full possession of their rocks 
and felt so confident in their safety that they installed their regular 
sentries, to watch out, at least for a time, to see that their great 
enemy the leopard did not come near. 

Unhappily, Father never saw the completion of our monkey com- 
pound, which certainly was an embellishment of our animal park. On 
April 1 4th, 1913, he died. Two days later our keepers bore his coffin 
on its last journey. Thus for the last time Father passed through his 
beloved park, halting a few moments, as had been his wish, at his 
favourite corners, and so to Ohlsdorf Cemetery. 

As we lingered at the graveside, our lawyer, Dr. Kleinschmidt, laid 
his arms on the shoulders of my brother and myself. 'My dear friends,' 
he said, 'you indeed have a worrying heritage, you have not deserved 
such a burden.' He knew better than anyone else how much land 
Father had acquired, his bank commitments and the exceptionally 
heavy loans he had made, to build Stellingen. It was indeed a giant 
burden, one which still lies heavy on our shoulders. But we did not 
take the prudent advice which he offered us. Our minds were un- 
hesitatingly made up. We would discharge the whole debt. 

As we had enough land round the animal garden to dispose of, 
Heinrich concluded an agreement with Hugo Haase, Showman King 
of the time, and to the animal garden was added an amusements park, 
which at that time had its parallel nowhere. This was opened in May 
1914. It included an impressive scenic railway, which ran through an 
artificial Alpine landscape, and from the high points of the track of 
which visitors had a glimpse of a switchback railway, a water-chute 
and a reproduction of the lovely scenery of the Zillerthal valley. Even 



after the bullets at Sarajevo had startled the whole world, there were 
still few in Germany who realised how near was the unholy conflagra- 
tion which was so soon to set the whole world in flames. Even the 
mobilisation of the Army failed to reduce our gate, which during the 
first year of the war was a record one, a peak not again to be touched 
for decades. 



HAVING COME back from a visit to America in the year of my father's 
death with a brief-case full of orders, I crossed the Atlantic again in 
1914, to deliver the animals in question. On this occasion I lectured 
to the Zoological Society of St. Louis on the construction of Stellingen, 
for the people over there were mooting a zoo, and we were interested 
in getting the contract to build it. To give a bit of life to my lecture, 
I resorted to a little publicity device. Mine was an after-dinner talk, 
and at the crucial point I contrived to have two young lions let loose 
under the table. They were only seven-month-old cubs, but they cer- 
tainly produced the effect I wanted. The hundred guests, all rather 
drowsy with food and drink, were on their feet at once. 

It was, indeed, more productive of clarity of mind than any double- 
strength black coffee would have been. There were even some so 
scared that they climbed on to their chairs. By the time I had con- 
vinced them demonstrably how harmless my animals still were they 
were all thoroughly awake. Then I really could begin my lecture, and 
you see, I knew my American pressmen I had secured myself a 
good press. 

Those two lions were named Hans and Gretchen, and I presented 
them to the future zoo. Two years later, in the throes of the first 
world war, what should I receive from the St. Louis Zoo but a tele- 
gram. The U.S.A. was then still neutral, and it was suggested that I 
should make my way across to America in one of our U-boats, then 
doing their best to break the Allied blockade. For the St. Louis people 
wanted me to build up their zoo for them. Unfortunately, it was 
already out of the question for me to go. Soon enough after that Hans 
and Gretchen were re-christened America had entered the war on 
the other side. 

At the very outset of hostilities, my brother Heinrich, being a 
reservist, was called. Colomban Uncle John, after an adventurous 
escape from British internment, made his way through Java and Italy 
to Hamburg, and on him and me fell the responsibility of managing 
Stellingen, with its heavy load of responsibility, its steadily decreasing 



attendance and its equally relentlessly rising costs for food got scarce, 
and so did coal. My nephew, Paid Mehrmann, who since 1911 had 
been the firm's accountant and a magnificent organiser of our domestic 
pets' department, found himself on the Western Front in the forces. 
Nearly all our really reliable attendants and animal catchers were also 
in the Army. 

One of them, indeed, rode high in field-grey uniform on an 
elephant, too! This was our good old Jack-in-the-Box, Matthias 
Walter the same who had gone round the Cape of Good Hope with 
me in the dromedary ship and occupied the enamel throne next to 
mine at Swakopmund. He and his working elephant Jenny made war 

It was like this. Matthias was in the Red Sea on his way home on the 
s.s. Axenfals when the radio picked up the news of the outbreak of war 
and this was broadcast from the bridge. Matthias had eleven elephants 
with him on board. The captain steamed as fast as he could to the 
as it then was Italian colonial port of Massawa. From there the 
elephants were taken to Brindisi on an Italian tramper and thence went 
to Stellingen by rail. 

Two days later Matthias, being a naval reservist, had donned his 
blue naval uniform at Wilhelmshaven and exchanged his elephant goad 
for a carbine. Five months later, he was at Middelkerke on the Belgian 
North Sea coast when orders came through from the Supreme Com- 
mand to proceed at once to Stellingen and thence bring back a work- 
ing elephant named Jenny. Jenny had suddenly been classed as k.f., 
or fit for active service,* and so with draught harness and marching 
rations reached the truck in which under 'Oberbootsmannmaat* or 
Assistant Bo 'sun Matthias Walter she was to proceed to the Western 

At Avesnes station, south of Maubeuge, the German infantry men 
had something to stare at when for the first time in their lives they saw 
a bluejacket riding high up on an elephant. But there was work for 
Jenny to do. In the large woods of Felleries, just behind the front lines, 
Jenny began to earn her daily bread in the pit-prop industry. Every 
morning, off she went to the forest. Tremendous old trees came 
crashing down and were trimmed back to the trunk. Then along came 
Jenny and with head, trunk and front legs reduced the confusion of 
trunks, lying all ways, one on top of the other, to decent order. Next 

* K.J.=Kiiegsfertig, the German expression for 'fit for active service.' 



she dragged all the timber out to the high road and to a sawmill which 
turned the timber into pit-props for the trenches. 

Daily, Jenny transported fifty trees, among them some that twelve 
horses could not have shifted. She could fell a tree two feet in diameter 
all by herself. She was quite systematic about it. First she would shake 
it, till she had loosened up the roots. Then she got her fore legs and 
powerful shoulder against the trunk, reared on her hind legs and 
brought her six-thousand-pound weight to bear. It was remarkable 
that she never broke a tree off; it was always the roots which were 
made to give way, with loud reports, till the earth heaved up and she 
brought the tree crashing down. 

In time, Jenny was employed everywhere that they could fit her in, 
as a sort of maid of all heavy work. There was a traction engine that 
the French had driven into a pit to prevent us using it, but Jenny 
yanked it out all right. A column of motorised transport got stuck in 
the mud Jenny put them on their way again. She was even harnessed 
to the plough, and the old parade ground at Floumont was turned into 
arable land, and ploughed twice as deep, too, as any ordinary team 
could have done it. 

Her greatest triumph, however, this bulky figure in 'self ' field grey 
achieved in the goods marshalling yards of Floumont. She had been 
working all day long as 'shunting engine,' making up trains, and Walter 
had just hooked her to four loaded trucks in a siding. Then up came a 
General, who no doubt was seeing this for the first time, for he 
laughed and made a scornful gesture, as if to say: 'She'll never pull 
that. 1 Then Jenny just leant her powerful shoulder against the rear 
wagon and all the trucks moved, slowly at first, but with gathering 
speed sixty tons of load. Speechless, the General at once produced 
six cigarettes and a special ginger cake for Jenny. 

Our elephant became famous all down the front. In the evenings, 
for full measure, she would sometimes add a little bonus show of her 
circus arts, and the laughter of the chaps on their amphitheatre of 
tree-trunks could be heard a mile away. 

The only thing Jenny could not stand was an aeroplane, and it did 
not matter whether it was ours or an enemy one. If one came her way 
and her trusted rider was not to hand to calm her, she would swing 
her trunk in the air and trumpet loudly and combatively, pricking up 
her huge ears and trying to locate the enemy whose thundering din 
she heard. On Sundays people said one could have believed oneself in 
India, for then Jenny did no work, but was free to wander through 



the woods and pick delicacies for herself. But at a call she always 
came straight back to Walter, just like a faithful dog. 

For more than two years this 'outsize number in field grey* of the 
first world war worked like this, the first and, I think, the only war 
elephant on the books of the Wehrmacht. But then, towards the very 
end, in 1918, Walter was badly wounded. She then returned home, 
herself unwounded. She died in the thirties, pensioned off in the 
Strassburger Circus. 

As the war went on, the food problem at Stellingen grew more and 
more serious. Whereas in the early days, owing to our connections 
in the Army Command, we contrived to get large supplies of horse- 
flesh in from abroad, these eventually ceased to be sufficient to cover 
our needs. Our pride, the sea-elephants, were the first to go, through 
lack of fresh sea fish. The remaining seals gradually died, as they could 
not live indefinitely on fresh- water fish. 

Losses increased attendance decreased. As the war enthusiasm 
faded, military concerts lost their appeal. Though in my letters to 
Heinrich, still in the Army, I did not mention all the details, for there 
was no point in giving him fruitless worry, he nevertheless read be- 
tween the lines and guessed how things were. 

I had just gone to Sweden again to buy up horseflesh when Adolf 
Strassburger offered me his circus. But I had not the money. Nor had 
Uncle John, at Stellingen, anything in the kitty. Yet he supported the 
plan which I immediately conceived. As our name stood well in 
Hamburg, and in spite of the bad financial position our credit was 
good, I plucked up the courage to apply to the famous banker, Max 
Warburg. He immediately accommodated me with a rather large sum, 
sufficient to enable me to offer Strassburger a good price and make 
preparations to start a new Carl Hagenbeck tented circus. There was 
no lack of performing animals at Stellingen, and we had enough exotic 
animals at our empty mangers to be able to send a seemly animal show 
on to the road. 

I bought back two elephants from that veteran circus manager, 
Hermann Blumenfeld he had bought them from us shortly before the 
beginning of the war. Blumenfeld was a temperamental fellow, known 
as Hermann-Hermann, because he used to get so excited that he 
always repeated the end of a sentence once or twice. 

'Jolly glad,' he assured me, 'jolly glad to give you your old ele- 
phants back; they're eating me out of house and home, house and 


home, anyway out at my place at Magdeburg at Magdeburg they're just 
standing about on the chain, on the chain. You can pay me when you 
like, you like. Send me the draft home, simple address, just Blumen- 
feld, Guhrau-Guhrau.' 

'Guhrau once or twice?' I asked. 

'Why, once, of course, just Guhrau-Guhrau.' 

'Just Guhrau, then?' 

'Oh no, damn it, I've not got any birds, any birds . . .' 

The animals reached Malmo at the end of March, where in the 
meantime Strassburger's wagons had been painted orange and blue 
and with our name. Now the seventy-six horses which we had taken 
over, the three elephants and a number of zebras, camels and donkeys 
had the opportunity of welcoming new colleagues arriving from 
Stellingen. With the outbreak of war my old friend and teacher Richard 
Sawade had hastened home from South America, and now stood at my 
side while I made preparations for our first night in the Oslo circus 

'A circus manager's place is in the ring, especially when the circus 
bears so famous a name I' Thus Sawade, and he was quite right. 
Though I had hitherto never worked in the ring, I now took on the 
elephant group, trained by an old keeper of ours to a new number 
performed together with the Strassburger elephants. I had only time 
for five rehearsals with them in our Swedish winter quarters. One of 
the group was a large Sumatran bull elephant with tusks about three 
feet long, and his idea was at the outset to make sure that his new 
owner respected him, to which end he made a persistent attack on me. 
Luckily I was pretty good at handling the fourteen-foot-long elephant 
whip and getting round him, cracking it, which of course all went to 
enhance the dramatic effect. 

First night! Standing in the paddock behind the scenes, awaiting 
the whistle cue with my elephants, I had a real touch of footlights 
fever. There was my cue, my entry march. Curtain up! And I was 
already in the dazzle of the ring. Behind the scenes Sawade had just 
handed me a big glass of champagne. I bowed forcefully to the 
audience and then I saw my elephants already racing round me at 
such speed that I could hardly tell which was first and which last. My 
faithful coachman Otto, who saw it all, stood right in their track. But 
in a moment I had the animals under my command, though I had to 
keep whispering to Otto to ask what came next! 'On one foot.' 
'Pirouette !' he prompted me, and I bellowed out my orders as if the 

1 06 


poor elephants were hard of hearing. Those first few minutes were 
centuries to me. Ah, but there it was at last, the triumphal march 
from Aida. All up for the pyramid stand! Our turn was over, and we 
marched out ! 

My dress shirt was glued to my body, but the applause seemed all 
right. The Oslo folk were enthusiastic. Sawade gave me a satisfied 
wink of his left eye. Nevertheless, a few days later I learned my lesson. 
Advance agent, press manager and business organiser all at the same 
time, I had taken the night express to Stockholm. What was that I 
heard during the night? A cheerful mixed company of fellow passengers 
had mentioned my name. They were laughing. Why were they laugh- 
ing? They were laughing because I had shouted so when I was in the 
ring ! Vox populi! After that I tuned down my ring voice to drawing- 
room strength, and my poor elephants showed their gratitude by 
becoming surprisingly docile. 

Apart from our group of tigers, produced once more by Richard 
Sawade, our lion tamer, Willy Peters, had also enterprisingly filled 
the gap as polar bear tamer. Now, polar bears are at first sight as alike 
one another as peas. Dispatch was essential. The veteran bear tamer 
had time to tell Peters the run of the show and the names of the 
animals, but unfortunately there was no time to get to know them 
individually by their names. To cut a long story short, Peters got 
some red poster paint and gave each bear a distinguishing mark on its 
forehead. But during the performance the bears scratched their noses, 
once then again and again and this, together with their bodily 
heat, made the paint run. Suddenly there was an outburst of indignant 
cries from the audience, who thought that the bears were bleeding. 
'Brutes 1' they cried, 'cruelty to animals 1 Get outl* Soon rabid 
Swedish animal-lovers were in search of me, together with the police, 
and it took a great deal of effort to convince them what had really 

Because of the war, I could not take many of my staff to Scandinavia. 
It was hard work all day, and often all night too. I often saw day break 
while I was still bent over letters to Uncle John, who was more and 
more pressing in his requests for funds to carry on the animal park, 
and to Heinrich and the banks and lawyers who handled our many 
business enterprises. 

I also recall writing a heartfelt letter of thanks to a good friend in 
America, the publisher of the Denver Post newspaper of Colorado. He 



had written very warmly to my most astonished wife to express his 
condolences when in 1 9 1 7 he learned that I had fallen on the Western 
Front. In his paper he had given me a fine obituary, praising me to the 
skies and not forgetting to add: 'Lorenz Hagenbeck's word was as 
good as a bank guarantee. ' With his letter he sent a copy of the news- 
paper, so I had to hasten to give him a sign of belated life. 

Gothenburg was the place where we first muffed it. Unfortunately 
I had allowed myself to be talked into engaging new, local musicians. 
It had seemed too expensive to take our initial Oslo orchestra with us 
on tour. But if it is in any case no easy matter for a conductor to keep a 
circus programme in time with all the items of the performance and 
provide a really good musical accompaniment, it turns into real chaos 
when the man is both new, and intoxicated, and moreover is backed 
up in this by all his band. The pianist alone a girl who was a tee- 
totaller was powerless to save the situation. 

Nevertheless, taking it all round, I was very happy. My heart 
danced for sheer delight. My childhood toy circus had really come to 
life, wagons and tent complete. And this time I had no need to take 
care not to spoil my mother's floor and I could also lead my own 
elephants in the ring ! 

When the day came to erect the big top in Sweden my glance kept 
stealing up to the sky and I kept my fingers crossed, lest a sudden 
squall should serve me with the bad luck Father had with his first tent 
in the Heiligengeist Field. But the clerk of the weather was reasonable, 
and for three days the Swedes thronged in. I breathed again, for now 
not only could I pay some bills, I was also in a position to send a 
hundred thousand crowns to Uncle John in Stellingen. For the first 
time I went out with a friend for a really enjoyable ride in the lovely 
outskirts of the city in our circus there was hardly a horse which 
was only ridden in the ring. 

We trotted over the sands of the shore, on the one hand the steely 
blue Baltic, on the other the green woods which fringed the coast. 
Suddenly there was a burst of machine-gun fire, and before I knew 
where I was I was prostrate in the soft moss, my black horse swiftly^ 
vanishing among the trees, while my companion was clinging desper- 
ately to his wildly bucking hack and shouting:* 'Help me, I have a 
broken knee-cap !' Thank heavens I was not injured myself, and could 
take my friend's horse in hand, and then we got out of the way, and 
I went in chase of my horse. Later I found out that the nag I had 

1 08 


chosen had been trained to a cowboy programme in Strassburger's 
circus and when it heard shooting was supposed to gallop out of the 

Had not anxiety about Germany overshadowed that Swedish year, 
it would have been one of my loveliest memories. I grew more and 
more enthusiastic about that lovely land of sea, woods and endless 
sunlit summer nights, in which we bathed and fished or rode our ele- 
phants into the woods, where they could graze at will in the midnight 
sunshine as if they were in India. 

We also played to full houses in that Northern Venice, Stockholm, 
for a month, and I was so delighted by the wonderful way they accepted 
a German circus at the hottest part of the submarine war that later I 
sent Skansen, the director of the Stockholm Zoo, three European 
bison, or aurochs, as a present. Moreover, the animals bred, so that 
today, after the loss of the second world war by Germany, Springe 
on the River Deister is one of the few places in the world where 
this original species of the forests of Germany has been preserved 

After the end of this first Scandinavian tour with our tented circus, 
I ventured on a second visit to the Oslo Tivoli building. It was a great 
success. However, there was one incident which remains unforgettable. 
In addition to Sawade's tiger group, our programme also included the 
trainer Willy Peters, whom I have mentioned above as animal tamer 
and later circus manager. The circus world knows him as Soda-water 
Willy, because he was under doctor's orders to satisfy his unquench- 
able thirst principally by that beverage. Conscientious here as in 
everything else, he would never order a brandy without first ordering 
a siphon of soda-water. The only trouble was that he often failed to 
drink the soda. Nor was the forge tfulness due exclusively to haste, and 
if you saw a collection of siphons anywhere you could generally 
locate Willy not far off. It is, however, not of his thirst but of his 
lion item that I meant to talk. We had a couple of ladder balancers, 
Altenburg and Hofimann, who hit on the unhappy notion of 
increasing the attraction by doing their turn directly over the lions' 

I flatly opposed the idea, but they pleaded with me so long and 
made so much of the great publicity which would result not to 
speak of how useful it would also be to themselves in their career 
that in the end I gave my permission, though I did take the precaution 



of making them sign a document to say that the hazardous balancing 
act was being undertaken at their own request. 

The performance proceeded, and up above the central cage, with 
its lions, rose the ladders on which the luckless couple were wont to 
show their hand-stands and all the rest of it. Beneath them there were 
the lions, gaping up, and also, of course, the audience, breathless at 
the men's daring. 

But suddenly there was a roaring, and two lions got to grips, fight- 
ing. Now the situation was indeed dramatic. But, unimpressed by 
what was going on below, the men up top continued their airy antics, 
and everything would have passed off, I am sure, quite well had it not 
been for Peters. He suddenly felt he had to assert his authority and 
fire his revolver's blank cartridges, to get those two lions apart, and 
now what the roaring had not done the sudden reports certainly did. 
One of the two men so started that to the horror of the crowd he 
slipped, to be caught only at the last moment by his partner, and there 
the two dangled, with the lions licking their chops in expectation 
and the audience all with gooseflesh. After that I prohibited the busi- 
ness, nor did either Altenburg or Hoffmann utter a word of protest 
when I did so. 

By now in Germany such pleasant things as ham and salami had 
become rarities, and before we went back every man was anxious to 
smuggle something out for the folk at home. But somebody tipped off 
the Oslo police and the circus was combed through, to make sure 
we were not exporting prohibited goods, which included gold, rubber 
and a long list of things held to be of use in war. 

Richard Sawade was just going through with his last tiger item of 
our farewell performance when the police descended on us and began 
the search. As at that moment the animal wagons were empty, the 
guardians of the law surged into them, tapping the walls and boring 
holes in the floors. For do not the best circus novelettes lay it down 
that the cages of the great carnivores are the finest smuggling 

Fortunately, at this point the Norwegian manager of the Tivoli 
came on the scene, and mollified his over-zealous compatriots, who 
for all their pocket lamps and drills had found nothing at all. To con- 
sole them he had them brought a drink each, and when I saw these 
pjolters approaching a pjolter is a sort of Norwegian whisky and soda 
I absented myself as rapidly as I could and had recourse to a nearby 
butcher's shop, where I bought a whole hog (slaughtered), quantities oi 



bacon, ham, sausage and all the rest, all of which I packed into the 
empty animal wagon. The police now were kind enough to put their 
seals on the door! When it was properly labelled 'Lion and tiger 
food' I thought it was the best consignment I had ever had for that 
purpose. It certainly delighted our good two-legged Stellingen pets 
when we got home, for it was again Christmas time, and somehow I 
had not had time on the way to feed a single piece of that meat into 
my carnivores' hungry mouths ! 

I took my boyhood friend and years-long tamer Reuben Carstang 
a big jar of real Hamburg eel soup, and that soup was cooked from 
stock made from a real Norwegian hambone Reuben's favourite 
dish. Together with all the things which go with it, I presented myself 
at the entrance to the Berlin foreigners' internment camp, out on the 
Ruhleben road, for it was there tint as an Englishman the poor fellow 
had spent the whole war. 

Now, while the circus continued working, in the Stettin Central 
Hall, in order at least to cover the winter costs in Germany, Uncle 
John managed to hire the empty Chiniselli circus building in Warsaw. 
It was terribly cold when we loaded up at Stettin for Warsaw. Once 
again the Army Enlistment H.Q. combed through our personnel, so 
there I was myself, in driving snow, working elephant Jumbo at my 
side. All night long Jumbo had been busy heaving our circus wagons on 
to railway platform trucks. Ten long hours that faithful animal, well 
wrapped in a padded tarpaulin, kept by my side and worked so dili- 
gently that I shared my last bottle of rum with her that is to say, I 
used her half bottle to mix her a tubful of warm grog. 

What a contrast to our Scandinavian tour ! Most of the windows in 
our filthy circus train were broken. The savage wind swept the fine 
snow in through every crevice. The journey took three days and 
nights, for we had to spend many hours in sidings, letting military 
trains go through, before our ark on wheels could move on. Once 
there, we played two months long in the Polish capital. There was 
ample horseflesh for the carnivores, but not sufficient raw greenstuff 
for our herbage eaters, so that we lost two elephants, one of these 
being Nauke, a bull with magnificent tusks. This was a hard loss for us; 
for now, during the war, it was of course out of the question to get 
substitutes from India. 

We were all very glad when in 1917 I succeeded once again in 
getting to Scandinavia. This time we started our tour in the Copen- 
hagen circus building. By now, however, the war was making its 



mark here too. Coal supplies had run out, and to economise the 
Danish Government had ordered all electric current to be cut off two 
days a week. That was bad luck indeed. We could not give perfor- 
mances in the darkened building. Nor could I use the tent any more, 
for, as circus folk say, it had a starry sky to it now. The top was like a 
sieve, so that it really did look inside as if there were stars above one. 
But there were no more materials available for repairs no canvas, 
ropes or spare parts and as poverty was now bearing hard on the 
Stellingen Animal Park, we searched Germany from one end to the 
other to find stages or empty halls where we could put on a show. At 
last my applications to Holland bore fruit, but before we could go 
there I had to go through a fancy riding performance with the military 
authorities, a hard job, especially when one's mount has been trained 
to the military mind. 

In place of my staff now in the forces, I had engaged Danes and 
Swedes, for whom I suddenly found I lacked exit visas. Three times 
we loaded up at Bremen, but had to unload again. It was enough to 
make one despair. And when I did get all the necessary papers through, 
it was to find myself chasing rolling-stock again, for what I had already 
had at my disposal had in the meantime been snatched up for more im- 
portant work. At this point my business representative telegraphed 
from Amsterdam: 'I shall go mad, am here with staff and orchestra, 
what am I to do without funds?' I replied: 'I am already mad, wait 
till I come.' 

We got there; I had at last manoeuvred all our men through the 
red-tape front, even our German horse trainer. We unloaded at 
Sloten, an Amsterdam suburb, and when the first full evening takings 
had been banked, in my relief, together with my business manager, I 
tossed down a couple of tots of good Hollands gin. But the second of 
these stuck in my throat because of the scare which now came : it 
was the Amsterdam chief of police, laconically to tell me that this 
had been 'Mijnheer HagenbeckV first and last performance in Hol- 
land. He explained that the press had attacked us sharply, and it was 
claimed that our numerous personnel and animals would reduce the 
Dutch people's rations still further. 

Comrade Hollands had, however, worked wonders, brightening 
me up considerably, and at once I had a census taken of all the Dutch 
workers engaged on work for our circus tent men, musicians, 
drivers, porters. After the principal item of the next performance our 


My father and his favourite Walrus; a painting by l.ovis Corinth 
(Hamburg Art Gallery) 

Together with my brother, Hcinrich, I receive Kaiser Wilhelm II at 
Stellingen. On the right, with walking-stick, is Count Ferdinand vim Zeppelin 

Stellingen's Zoological sensation of 1925 ! Goliath the Sea-Elephant 


trumpeters blew a triple blast, and I thanked the audience for their 
applause, which I assured them I found most encouraging, so en- 
couraging, in fact, that I requested their support. I then told them 
what the police chief had said, and pointed out that there were three 
hundred and four Dutchmen at that moment in our employ, so I 
hoped that Holland would be able to feed my German staff of 
seven, all specialists, without whom I could not do. I said I was 
forced to make this statement because a hostile press had alleged 
the opposite. I bowed and the band played the Dutch national 

There was great applause, and the next morning I sent a deputation 
of my Dutch employees to The Hague to the Ministry of the Interior, 
while my two Belgian business representatives put forward my written 
application to be allowed to continue. I also went to The Hague, but 
did not even get inside the Ministry, for there was our delegation 
already coming out, beaming all over we had our permit ! 

Most of the newspapers now printed fair criticism, but there were 
still some which continued to paint our food-snatching presence in 
the blackest colours. One even went so far as to warn its readers to 
keep their dogs and cats indoors, lest our circus folk caught them and 
stuffed them 1 However, this warning had a sharp boomerang effect, 
for the very next morning there was a most enterprising Dutchman at 
our door with a whole wagon-load of dead dogs and cats, which he 
tried to sell us. He was furious when we explained that we had no use 
for them, and with some amusement we saw him withdraw, grumbling, 
to call upon a certain newspaper editor ! 

I think we received the most courteous treatment from the manager 
of the Scheveningen Seaside Resort Company. Here most of the hotels 
were full of British wounded, and the British military police had set 
patrols all round us, to prevent their folk coming to our shows, at a 
moment when so few miles away terrible battles were being fought. 
This blockade, however, did not defeat the good British. The name 
of Hagenbeck triumphed over the war and the artificial hatred of 
peoples, and the British officers found their way in as Dutch 
civilians ! 

In the autumn of 1918 I would have liked to hire the Chiniselli 
building in Warsaw again, but my application was so firmly refused 
by the German military authorities that I felt pretty sure that we were 
on the point of losing the war. We had indeed then begun to with- 
draw on all fronts. Holland and Scandinavia had just seen our show. 




What next, then? In Dresden, Breslau and Berlin other circuses had 
their permanent buildings. However, there was one great conurba- 
tion with a densely packed population which had no circus. This was 
the Ruhr. So I sent my business representative, Dr. Katz, to approach 
the city fathers of Essen, and the results of that enterprise were good. 


i TOOK a trip to Bremen and bought up the scaffolding of the trans- 
portable building which the firm of Car6 used to erect for the Bremen 
'Freemarket.' I now had my main structure, so I looked round and 
found a building firm to fit stabling, lighting, heating and so forth. The 
work of erection at Essen was to be completed by Christmas, 1918, 
but the time limit had to be stretched as badly as the cost. However, 
at last we could start. It was February i9th, 1919. Our intimacy with 
the city of Essen began, and here we now found a second home. 

I still marvel that the police inspectors responsible for building 
regulations ever let us open our doors. They must clearly have been 
great circus fans themselves. I can still picture our cashier at the pay 
desk that opening day, huddled in a thick winter overcoat, wrapped 
in blankets (with relays of heated bricks as hassocks for his chilled 
feet). Inside, one came on planks to cross over the trenches in which 
electric cables and various pipe systems were yet to be laid. There 
was a general shortage of window glass. Snow drifted in all over the 

Originally I had conceived of this as merely winter quarters for our 
circus, but in the end we decided to make Essen our permanent circus 
home. This decision, I will confess, was much facilitated by the fact 
that with two shows daily after a run of years we were still able to sell 
out full houses ! The Essen folk proved circus-minded to a high degree 
and took whatever we gave them. We provided first-class circus stuff, 
water displays, with floodlit fountains reaching to the ceiling, 
'Wallenstein's Camp' a scene from Schiller and Belbosq's 'Kiki on 
a Marmot Journey,' as our manager christened a really funny eques- 
trian programme. It all went. To Essen I took everything and any- 
thing that was good and expensive. 

If today you were to ask any old hand of Krupps, or such a man as 
my old friend Jacob Funke, now a newspaper proprietor, but then 
merely a brilliant young reporter, who often handled the circus 
reports, and you will find that everybody of that age recalls Spichalski 
the clown, Kiki the dwarf clown, August Molker with his 'lions on 
the sofa* or the Icarus family of the name of Lorch. Hagenbeck's 


show in Viehhof Square has become an indispensable chapter of Essen 

At the same time, what times of stress those Ruhr days could be ! 
There were many occasions when we had to fling ourselves headlong 
down in the office, to avoid the bullets which suddenly came flicking 
in, to bury themselves in the plaster of the wall. I can recall our aerial 
acrobats dropping like ripe plums into the safety net one day when 
machine-gun fire suddenly turned the roof into a sieve. Revolution 
suddenly marched through the streets. One day we had mutinous 
troops demanding horses and weapons of us, and they took away even 
the wooden dummy guns we used in our shows and the blank car- 
tridge pistols used by our animal tamers. There were riotous scenes in 
those days in the restaurants, revolutionary soldiers and their girls 
dancing on the dining tables. But whenever our circus doors opened, 
differences for the moment seemed to vanish, and we saw Spartacists, 
socialists and militarists, those who plundered and those who were 
plundered, all sitting together, captivated by the display at once ancient 
and modern. 

Every night I would creep cautiously through the streets to my 
hotel, bearing a whole suitcase-full of paper money, one man scout- 
ing ahead, another covering me behind with a stout cudgel, till with 
a sigh of relief I saw our 'treasure* locked away in the hotel strong- 
room. Now we became millionaires, multi-millionaires, billionaires, 
trillionaires with the dollar at last reaching 4-20 billion paper 
marks. I do not think my nephew, later chief cashier, ever knew 
exactly how many noughts one was supposed to stick on the end. 

We went to Holland that summer with a totally new programme, 
and there earned good Dutch gulden, while every week at Stellingen 
we handed out two laundry-baskets of paper money, and our em- 
ployees, when they were paid, used to hurry, because while they were 
still waiting in the queues outside the shops the printing presses were 
almost certainly turning out more millions, and prices might rise still 
higher. At one time a mere fifty guldens were sufficient to cover our 
animal park outgoings for a whole month ! 

However, all this financial juggling was not going to create flesh 
for our carnivorous animals. We had lost our seals to the fishmonger 
during the war. Now we lost our lions and tigers from eating meat 
which was bad. We pulled our polar bears round thanks only to the 
use of some millions of marks' worth of camomile flowers, using 



these for inhalations to make the animals sweat. How does one per- 
suade a polar bear to inhale, the question may be asked? Simple. You 
fill an elephant's drinking trough with steaming camomile tea and lift 
your polar bear cages on top of this, bar side down. That way the 
bears have little option, and the camomile vapour is bound to enter 
their streaming noses. 

But at last, not to lose heavily, we had to sell our animal stock 
abroad, and as the animal park emptied we were also obliged to dis- 
miss faithful old employees. Hagenbeck's Animal Park finally closed 
its doors on October 3rd, 1920. A few specimens which we saved 
from this wreck we sent to the Ruhr. At Riittenscheid we acquired an 
enormous machine shop which had been stripped bare, and there we 
opened a large animal show. That same winter we brought our other 
circus back from Holland and put on a programme in the Busch 
building in Reeper Street, Hamburg. It was here that the famous 
* Three Codonas* began their world-famous triple somersaults be- 
tween trapezes, a feat nobody else has ever achieved. 

The first people to visit us when the war was over were young John 
Ringling and his wife. John had now grown into a fine figure of a man. 
When something pleased him he had a trick of jerking his head, 
pursing his lips and whistling softly to himself. Our horse trainer had 
just taken on his team of sixteen blacks, each in white harness with a 
large brass number plate. 'Now then, mix it! 1 he would cry, and go 
out of the ring, whereupon the horses would gambol about, weaving 
in utter disorder, like children at playtime. A moment later, he 
would return and cry: 'In your places,' and they would at once form 
up in proper order. This performance really did make John Ringling 
whistle, and our wonderfully trained eighteen polar bears, twelve 
Bengal tigers and the exotic item with fourteen zebras and camels also 
pleased him mightily. In due course he wrote us a handsome cheque, 
in addition transferring to us four elephants out of his American herd, 
which by steady purchasing in these years since we last met he had 
built up to some ninety animals. 

These star turns sailed to America on the American steamship 
Hawaiian, while our assistant, Emil Kohrmann, took our show on a 
tour of the North German states, hoping at least to earn the animals 
their keep. Twice daily he sent us the paper money he took at the gate, 
because the value of this often dropped in the course of the day. 
Despite the losses this entailed, we were able soon enough to buy 
dollar bills sufficient once again to send men out to catch wild animals 



and bring them to us at Stellingen, rebuilding our animal park and our 
animal trade all over again. 

Heinrich and I now established two firms abroad, the Carl Hagen- 
beck Animal Trading Company and Circus Ltd., of The Hague, and 
the Hagenbeck Brothers Company, of New York. With foreign bank 
loans we succeeded in re-establishing our business, and in 1922 the 
first of our men, veteran Jtirgen Johannsen, brought the first large 
contingent of animals in this postwar period of trade from India into 
the port of Hamburg. Heinrich was in North America when this fine 
herd of ten young elephants arrived. It was a sight I had not seen for 
many a long day, and with the elephants came numerous Bengal 
tigers, leopards, crocodiles and exotic birds and three hundred 
rhesus monkeys. I could have embraced each of those young elephants 
for sheer delight. At once it occurred to me that I must reopen the 
animal park, if only for a day, and all former members of my staff 
supported me. Years after I was reminded by an old friend who was 
present that I myself got so excited that I banged my desk with delight 
so hard that I cracked two of the boards. 'Done/* I cried, 'on with it! 9 
I seized the telephone at once, to beat up recruits and prepare the 
press. For a few days I had an aeroplane circling over Hamburg, 
dropping half a million leaflets which read: 'People of Hamburg! 
Does your animal park still mean anything to you? If so, come to 
Stellingen on Sunday.' 

The result exceeded expectations. Two and twenty thousand 
visitors poured through our vast gate with the elephant statuary. I 
had to make that special revival a two days' show. After that, I had 
to send on the animals, for they were already sold to America. 

Meanwhile, Heinrich had renewed our old contacts in Buenos 
Aires, and soon Fritz Essler was on his way to the Antarctic to get us 
more sea-elephants. Jiirgen Johannsen sent a big new contingent of 
stock in from India, and Christoph Schulz from Africa. Our animal 
trade was on the up-grade again. 

Then, in 1924, that unholy bubble, 'inflation/ burst. Schacht 
introduced the rentenmark currency. Overnight, millionaires were 
turned to beggars. Banks crashed. The press was full of news of 
suicides of ruined men and the sale of old-established business houses. 
It was a severe stroke, but essential to bring the German economy 
back to health. Heinrich and I now decided that after three years of 
closed doors our Stellingen zoo must open again. At once the whole 
place came to new life, lawns being mowed, new gravel rolled, the 



Japanese temples repainted with red lacquer and so forth, and after 
some weeks of round-the-clock work we finally opened our doors 
again on May 24th, 1924. We had only one great hindrance the 
memory of the general public. Though everybody had suffered just 
as we had in the past ten years, we would hear scornful remarks to the 
effect that 'if the old man had still been alive, there would have been 
more animals than this.' People were forgetting that in those 'good 
old days' a glass of beer cost only ten pfennigs. In the meantime, we 
had lost a world war. Besides, we were starting everything again from 
scratch, and all at our own expense. 

Now, however, we were to have a sensation which had been 
unknown in Father's time. 'Goliath', a fully grown sea-elephant, 
appeared in the park as the first of his kind. His travelling quarters 
were the size of the largest pantechnicon made. He weighed no less 
than 5,300 Ib. avoirdupois I He could have outbalanced two school 
forms together with their masters ! To get Goliath into the park we 
used our working elephant, Roma, but before Roma pushed the 
enormous van she took a peep inside, and virtually squeaked with 
delight at the comical vast tubby thing she saw inside, with funny 
flippers for arms and a clownish face. 

'Push, Roma!' we cried. Roma pulled herself together, and the 
enormous packing case slid up the ramp on to the edge of the Ant- 
arctic Panorama pool. Nearby, penguins which had come by the same 
ship were already carefully examining their new home. Goliath's 
arrival was like a grand public reception. There were crowds of the 
general public, and of course, in the forefront, also Nature specialists 
and the directors of several zoos. 

The capture of Goliath had been a chapter all by itself, for it had 
been no easy matter to net such a monster and get him on board ship. 
And, once on board, he had had to stay in his box, even crossing the 
Equator, and do without his daily dip, making do with good periodical 
hosings down. But for the more than forty days of the journey across 
he had not eaten a scrap of food not that the fast showed at all when 
one looked at him. 

Our attendants opened the travelling box, and out he came, a 
battleship-grey mountain of fat, a mobile paunch, capped by a diminu- 
tive, neckless head. Then he smelted water, and the jaws opened to 
emit one tremendous bellow as he plunged into the pool, into which 
we had tipped a few hundredweight of salt and four hundred pounds 
of live codling ! The tremendous splash drenched the front-line radio 



commentators of the old Norag broadcasting company and many of 
the pressmen and reporters. Mouth wide open, Goliath forged a 
foaming path across that tank, and not one fish ever missed those 
snapping yellow- toothed jaws. At last he emerged again from the 
frothing water, shook his pointed snout, and bellowed like an enor- 
mous foghorn with sheer delight, before, obviously delighted with 
this first little step towards removal of his loose tummy pleats, he 
settled down on the sandy shore to belch softly and take a well-earned 
forty winks. Anyone who had not seen him shooting all ways to and 
fro through that water like an erratic torpedo would now, even as 
near as only twenty feet from him, take him merely to be an outcrop 
of shining rock, eroded smooth by the sea. 

He was not there long. By the very next steamer from the other side 
there was the American circus king John Ringling, all out to acquire 
Goliath for his 'Greatest Show of the World. 1 When he saw the 
mammoth creature, John gave another of those nods and whistled 
softly to himself. But it was his turn to be surprised when he heard 
our price ! For, to tell the truth, we had never given a hint that we 
had the intention of selling Goliath. Indeed, from now on, for some 
years, we made sea-elephants a speciality of our house, one which 
made more than one zoo manager envious. 'Roland, 1 who, together 
with Bobby the gorilla, was the Berlin Zoo's leading attraction, was 
supplied by us. 

Nevertheless, it was not long before on the other side of the Atlantic 
John Ringling had his own sea-elephants. He used to have one of them 
Jason drawn in triumph round his three circus rings before 
putting the animal in its pool. Later, he confided in me (I was staying 
with him at his winter headquarters at Sarasota Bay, in Florida) that 
this Jason a sea-elephant, incidentally, which we had supplied 
proved of tremendous publicity value throughout the States, and more 
than earned his keep during the five winter months by that daily ride 
round the circus. At Sarasota Bay John Ringling had had piles driven 
to make a water enclosure, so that for five months of the year Jason 
could have the time of his life and fish to his heart's content in the 
Gulf Stream. Even at low tide he had a sufficient depth of water for 
any zoo-confined colleague to envy him. 

One morning, however, this natural sea pool cost Jason dearly. 
The attendant found his flippers milling as if he were training to be a 
boxer. A large octopus had seized his head, and it was no easy job to 
cut through the tentacles, which were a good three feet long. In this 



attack Jason lost an eye, and it was a long time before a number of 
festering head wounds healed. 

On this particular visit to the United States, out of thirty-four days 
I was travelling for twenty-seven, for I covered the whole country. 
At Memphis the heat was tropical, at Denver, there was a foot of snow 
in the streets. This forced travel I found essential if I was to renew all 
my old business contacts properly. The extent to which the epidemic 
of national hatred could infect even educated men I had experienced 
some time before this at the hands of Dr. Hornaday, director of the 
New York Zoo. Immediately after the end of the war, that old 
business friend had written us a letter which was an infuriated song of 
hate against Germany. Just before the war we had supplied the Bronx 
Park with an aurochs from Count Pless's estate. When required for 
siring purposes this bull would not do his stuff. Hornaday now tried to 
make out that either we or Count Pless himself had deliberately 
doctored the animal to prevent America breeding from him. Later it 
was established that the bull was merely suffering from an easily 
treated minor complaint which any vet should have spotted at once. 
But as even after that discovery the American had never felt called 
upon to offer either the Count or myself an apology, I did not feel any 
great inclination to call on him. He, however, heard of my presence 
in New York and invited me round, and after thrashing things out 
thoroughly our old friendship was restored, and I left New York 
rather pleased with myself, having a new large order in my pocket. 

In America I also acquired some animals for Stellingen. Among 
these were four enormous alligators. When they had been got aboard 
I had gone down to my cabin to change at once for breakfast, when the 
bo 'sun came hurrying down to me in a state of terrible alarm, to tell 
me that two of the alligators had broken loose. (He called them 

I hurried off as I was, one cheek still covered with lather, and there 
I saw the travelling chests in smithereens, broken up by the tails of 
those powerful animals. When at last we got the hang of it all, we 
found our escapees tucked away sound asleep, their heads comfortably 
nestling on some old emigrants' mattresses which had been forgotten 
in a corner. Carefully we closed the hold, and while I finished my 
toilet and breakfasted the ship's carpenter knocked me up a sort of 
shield about three feet square. This was necessary because alligators 
have a tremendous bite, and once they get hold they never let go, 
no matter even if their heads are twisted till the lower jaw breaks. 



When the travelling boxes were built up again, I armed myself with a 
lasso made from a ship's hawser. Cautiously, my stout shield in front 
of me, I crept up to the sleeping monster and got my noose over the 
head of the first. It woke up at once and reared up wildly, but I 
quickly got the noose also over a fore leg, so as not to strangle the 
animal when we pulled. The free end of the hawser had been led 
through the alligator cage, and the moment I leapt back the bo'sun 
and the carpenter hauled with all their might, till the animal, snapping 
madly and lashing out with its tail, was safely inside. 

The next alligator had watched the capture of its mate apparently 
unmoved, but when I approached with shield and lasso this one lunged 
forward at me, and its tooth- jagged jaws came crash on to the shield. 
The blow flung me back. The alligator raised its threatening jaws a 
second time, and was clearly in a combative mood. But I already had 
the noose over his neck, and the next step he took was into the loop, 
and he too was caught. Like lightning he now flung himself on his back 
then swiftly leapt back again to his feet, doubled in two, lashing oui 
with his tail on all sides, till the deck shook under the blows. But incl 
by inch he too was dragged in, and when we had got him too safelj 
boxed we cut the rope. Even then we did not breathe freely till the 
carpenter had hammered in the last nail enclosing the creature. The 
glasses of beer which we then treated ourselves to were the besi 
earned I have ever known. 

All this time, Richard Sawade was travelling with our mobile 
circuses, partly in Germany, partly in other European countries, anc 
as long as the sun shone business was good. But winter, with its 
enormous costs, again drank up all the profits, for one cannot simply 
lock up a circus; the performing animals must constantly be under 
training. Attendants have to be paid, and repairs and preparations for 
the next tour also necessitate permanent staffing. 

For this reason I was now greatly concerned to find some circus 
building in which to spend the winters giving performances, at least 
to cover basic costs. Sarrasani owned the only building in Dresden, 
Krone had his winter circus quarters in Munich, Paula Busch covered 
Berlin, while in Vienna, where earlier there had been as many as three 
circuses but now was none, there was now not a single suitable build- 
ing available. 

Guided by Father's basic motto fx oder nix that is to say, all or 
nothing I then took the train for the city of the waltz. There I at 
once found the housebreakers just beginning to swing their picks in 



the old Schumann building. 'Commercial Counsellor' Busch had sold 
the Prater building, and this was being transformed into a cinema. 
At the same time, the oldest circus building of all in Vienna, that 
which Renz senior built in 1864, in the suburb of Leopoldstadt, was 
apparently in ruins. There had been a fire. It had been gutted, and 
what was once the dazzling foyer had been turned into a garage. 
Nevertheless, I saw my chance, and resolved at once to re-convert 
this ruined shell. 

It was at first a baffling job. Fix oder nix was scarcely the motto of 
the Viennese Hotel Industry Company, which owned the Renz ruins. 
Yet at last I did manage to get them all round a table together, and 
then the contract was signed Dutch gulden were to bring life into 
this now slumbering circus backwater. Builders, decorators, up- 
holsterers and carpenters filled the hulk with the din of their tools, 
and much water and washing soda were used to remove from mangers, 
auditorium and gangways a very long accumulation of filth. Could he 
only have seen the red plush seats and interior decoration and dazzling 
illuminations on December 6th, 1923, when once again the doors 
were opened, how delighted old Renz would have been. From that 
day the Viennese took us to their proverbial golden hearts and when 
later our Essen building fell to the housebreakers Vienna was to pro- 
vide us with a generous new home for twenty uninterrupted years. 



IN THE autumn of 1927 came a return visit to South America, for 
Hemrich's inquiries in the Buenos Aires sea-elephant market had 
elicited sufficiently attractive answers. Letters and telegrams began 
to fly between that southern city and Hamburg; our advance agent, 
Dr. Katz, went out and one day, not long after, two men could have 
been seen in Hamburg docks measuring up and chalking lines on the 
deck of the s.s. General Mitre, as anxiously as old Noah had once done 
on his ship. For this Hamburg-South American steamer was to be 
fitted out for the transport of the entire Carl Hagenbeck Circus. When 
the steamer had been chartered, and work was under way, Richard 
Sawade and I took the fast train to Boulogne, to pick up a sister ship, 
the Cap Norte. Sawade had originally intended to sail with our pub- 
licity man, Karl Arthur Vollrath, on the Italian luxury liner Principessa 
Mafalda, but he decided to join me. Vollrath, however, would not 
cancel his booking. Vollrath had an expensive weakness for Italian 

So it came about that this time Hagenbeck's moved off in four 
steamers we two in advance on the Cap Norte, Vollrath on the 
Principessa Majalda, the General Mitre a fortnight behind us with the 
animals, and our artistes and technical personnel later still on the 
Billow. The two completely Hagenbeck boats were of course setting a 
direct course to Buenos Aires, while our Cap Norte, plying on its 
regular line, made other calls en route. However, the radio officer very 
kindly flagged the daily position of our two steamers on a wall chart 
for us. I came to look forward anxiously to his daily visit, and it can be 
imagined what a shiver went down my spine when one day he came 
with a long face and said : 'I am afraid I have sad news for you, gentle- 
men.' I drew a deep breath. 'Half an hour ago/ he said gravely, 
'when I made contact with the Principessa Mafalda she was sending out 
an SOS. Then her radio suddenly went silent. I am afraid she has gone 

Sawade shot me a quick glance, and the colour left his cheeks. He 
could so easily have been on that boat. But though most of the first- 
and second- class passengers went down with her, it so happened that 



Vollrath was one of the few to come out alive, but with hair turned grey ; 
he had witnessed the attempt to disembark. There were too few boats, 
and the sea was teeming with sharks. 

Arriving in Buenos Aires, we found the city under the sign of 
Hagenbeck. Dr. Katz had done good work. All possible hoarding sites 
shrieked at one with their brightly coloured placards about Carlos 
Hagenbeck. In any case, the people there already knew who we were. 

The welcome which our learned advance agent afforded us was par- 
ticularly lavish. He at once drove us off to a real feast. 'And not on the 
house, either, Herr Hagenbeck/ he declared at once, 'this is all on 
me,' and when I gaped, for he certainly had not been so rich when he 
left Hamburg, with pride he patted a bulging note-case. 

'Poker again?' I asked. 

'No, 1 said Katz, 'operating theatre. 1 And thereby partly solved a 
mystery. For Dr. Katz was one of the most intriguing circus men I 
have ever known. Nobody hitherto had ever really believed in the 
title of 'Doctor* on which he insisted, yet somehow it had always 
seemed to suit him unusually well. Now it had been proved. Katz was 
a person of most distinguished exterior and a most entertaining con- 
versationalist. The days now flashed by, thoroughly occupied by 
press conferences and parties out on the estancias of hospitable 
Buenos Aires friends, till, punctually a fortnight later, there was the 
General Mitre with her motley freight, and on the La Plata quays the 
talk was only of Hagenbeck. 

However, at the circus site we found erection of the necessary 
accommodation took a little longer than it would have done in Ger- 
many. Our Argentine employees spent too much time off the site. 
There was a swamp not far off 'peopled* by the plumpest frogs ever 
seen, and these were a culinary delicacy to the Argentinians. 

However, came November 8th, 1927, at last, and we opened our 
doors to a first gala performance, graced moreover by the presence 
of President Dr. Alvear, who most vividly expressed his pleasure, in 
the show, an official recognition to be repeated later at Rio de 
Janeiro, when his Brazilian opposite number, Dr. Washington, also 
attended a performance. In between one and the other expression of 
the highest approval in the land lay successful performances in a long 
list of the cities of both the Argentine and Brazil. Throughout South 
America we followed the harvest front. Indians flocked in their 
thousands to the sugar-cane provinces and earned good money. At 
Tucuman, one of the twenty-seven sugar refineries made a present of 



two tons of sugar-cane, which we utilised as welcome elephant fodder, 
though it did not last long. Through that Cloud-cuckoo-mountain of 
sweetness our twelve good Jumbos actually chewed their way in three 
days, during which the corners of their mouths were constantly 
dribbling nectar. 

In South America, we were specially impressed by the many German 
settlers, who hastened down from the most remote regions to make 
festive contact under the Southern Cross with our touch of the old 
home country. 

Through Brazil our five-thousand-seating circus four-master was 
competently steered by Richard Sawade, while I travelled that con- 
tinent at large, calling on all the zoos of South America, buying ani- 
mals and selling them too and eventually assembling at Buenos 
Aires a substantial animal transport of ant-eating bears, ocelots, 
jaguars, monkeys and a wide range of birds altogether no less than 
i, 2 different specimens 1 

Just before we left, I purchased one more animal pelt. It was of a 
species quite unknown to me dark brown, the skin of a canine or 
vulpine species and my curiosity was certainly awakened when the 
dealer gave me convincing assurances that he had obtained the skin up 
in the high Andes. Yet it was definitely not the hide of the long-haired 
wolf, a species I knew well. With closely matted hair, it was more like 
a bear's skin. At the same time, the animal had a pointed snout and 
long legs. I bought the hide and thus when I returned put the cat among 
the pigeons in German zoological circles, till Dr. Ingo Krummbiegel 
catalogued the animal as 'the Hagenbeck Andean wolf.' Alas, despite 
great efforts, I have to this day been unable to learn any more details 
of this rare and so nearly extinct species, let alone obtain a living 

On the journey back to Germany, while we were calling at Santos, I 
visited the world-famous San Paulo Serological Institute, and enriched 
my animal collection by one hundred poisonous snakes, tortoises and 
some specimens of the bird-eating spider. The Serological Institute of 
Butantan has often been wrongly called a * snake farm.' However, it 
does not exist to breed snakes, but to neutralise the danger of Brazil's 
poisonous reptiles. Some thirty thousand poisonous snakes are sent 
here every year, and the State-owned post office and railways transmit 
the snakes free. The reptiles are sent in by the coffee, yerba mate and 
cotton growers of this giant country, which in breadth and length 
equals the distance from Hamburg to Timbuktu! 



Tourists from all over the world are constant visitors at the snake 
compound, a grass-grown ground about a hundred yards square which 
contains about a dozen squat round hutments with small entrance 
holes at ground level. Here creep deadly reptiles in their thousands. 
One can see Brazil's deadliest snakes coiled up in the grass, creeping 
in or out of their huts, or trying in vain to climb the polished, over- 
hanging cement-faced walls of their compound. 

Totally unconcerned, among them strides the most photographed 
man of Brazil, in thigh-high rubber boots, and while onlookers get the 
creeps he calmly pins the creatures down with a wooden fork, picks 
them up with a grip behind the head, and with pincettes neatly 
squeezes the poison sac out into a test-tube. 

The director showed me over hi laboratory, where the milked-out 
poison is dehydrated and pulverised. To get one ounce of dehydrated 
poison, the sacs of more than eight hundred snakes are required. Small 
doses injected into the blood-stream of horses kept under ideal con- 
ditions, on the best food, of course, and under strictest controls 
produce poison antibodies, and at long intervals this serum is ex- 
tracted and prepared, for supply to outlying farmers in ampoules 
ready for home use. In the particular year I was there it was a farmer 
of the state of Santa Catharina who had beaten the record, sending in 
four hundred and ninety-nine snakes. 

'Would you like to see a genuine snake banquet?' the director 
laughed. He thrust his arm into a chest and from this produced a 
poisonless adder, glistening black, and about eight feet in length. 
Apparently this was his pet. He took it into his lap and stroked its 
head, as if it were a lap-dog. Using long-handled pincers, his assistant 
now put a very dangerous lachesis on the floor, and like a dart the 
adder leapt on this and, after a brief struggle, despite the lachesis 's 
attempts to bite the adder, had this by the head, and then with satis- 
faction slowly imbibed it. After this apparently ample meal the doctor 
took his pet back on his lap, but now the little head, eagerly darting 
from side to side, clearly expressed a wish for 'more of that,' and this 
was in fact served, in the shape of a poisonous coral adder, which was 
just as readily swallowed down. 

But despite all the serum which the Institute is today able to send to 
all parts of Brazil, it has still discovered nothing satisfactory against the 
bite of the bird-eating spider, which is capable of killing a sixteen- 
stone man in twenty minutes. 

I have only known one man who had a feeling almost of affection for 



this deadly member of the Gramostola family, and that was our own 
Papa Dorries, at Stellingen, who died a few years ago at the ripe age of 
a hundred and one, and had for long been in charge of our insect house. 
My brother and I had all our lives been on the most intimate terms with 
Papa Dorries, for he had been a friend of our father's, his childhood 
playmate in those far-off days when Hamburg was entirely enclosed 
within its city walls. He often used to tell us how they came back home 
late, when the city gates were closed, and, having no money to pay the 
fine, were given a few 'of the best' with the sentry's halberd. 

Papa Domes, an outstanding insect expert, thus served three 
generations of our family. He had spent twenty-five years collecting 
butterflies, beetles and insects for us. In Siberia, in Japan, and on the 
island of Sakhalin, he had turned his open umbrella upside down and 
tapped the bushes to capture what he wanted, discovering hundreds of 
new species of insect, many of which are now known to science by the 
names he gave them. He acquired his great love for the world of minute 
creatures from his own father, a Hamburg master baker in public life 
but in private life a scholar who had closely worked with the famous 
naturalist Dr. Alfred Brehm. He had many a tale to tell of his early 
adventures in East Siberia. 

In 1 877 Papa Dorries served as steward on the first steamer to go to 
Nagasaki from Hamburg, a voyage of seventy-five days. He had then 
traversed the whole of Japan from south to north on foot. Thence he 
continued through Sakhalin to Vladivostok and to East Siberia,which 
country absorbed him for no less than twenty-five years. When he 
thought he had had enough of that life, in addition to a collection of 
Siberian tigers, reindeer and stags, he had eighty-seven thousand 
butterflies and beetles, five thousand six hundred stuffed birds, count- 
less pelts and a great deal of folk information regarding the Tungus, 
Funfu and Aino peoples, all of which has enriched Germany's museums 
and preserved his name for posterity. Back in Germany, and already 
getting on in years, he now spent twenty-five years in charge of the 
Stellingen Terrarium and Aquarium, where the Kaiser and more than 
one other crowned head were his visitors and marvelled at the way in 
which he would pick up those death-dealing spiders. 

Fritz Dorries was as trusting in his attitude towards the animal 
world as he was honourable and guileless in his dealings with men. 
He would slide back the glass cover to the dangerous spider's cage, 
breathe on the creature, gently stroke its back, then cautiously lift it 
out. He would then carefully turn it on to its back on the palm of his 


A giant of the jungle holds her foot with $ tons weight behind it- 
over her trainer's head, but little Uwe does not fear for his father; he 
knows he himself can handle the gentle Roma 

Aquatic delights in Stcllingen's elephant pool : ample water and .1 good 
mud wallow are essentials in an elephant's toilet 

Lulu Gautier on his Lipizzaner mount Favoy Maestoso 


hand, so that sightseers, holding their breath, could see the unholy 
little poisoner's powerful incisors. 

Dorries was convinced that all the animals knew his body smell. He 
never touched them without first rinsing his hands well in warm water, 
so that there would be only his natural body odour, and not the 
slightest trace of soap, on his hands. 

He fed the bird-eating spiders with cockroaches, but every fort- 
night, as a treat, he used to give them a mouse. I have many a time 
watched those feasts. Like lightning, the spider would rise on its hairy 
legs on to the mouse, give it one bite, then leap back. Immediately a 
spasmodic jerk would run through the mouse, and a few seconds later 
it would be dead, when the spider would devour it completely, only 
skin and bones being left. 

One day, however, D6rries nearly had a bad accident, which might 
easily have had catastrophic results. But 'Papa' never for an instant lost 
his unassailable calm or his confidence in his poisonous little friend. 
He had been showing it to a famous princess and her attendants, and 
these, their noses wrinkled with disgust, were turning to follow the 
gentlemen of the party when the then fashionable head scarf of one of 
the ladies happened to touch the spider. In a flash this had leapt on to it 
and taken up a position on the top of the lady's straw hat. She had no 
idea what had happened, but it only needed a careless move of her 
hand for a fatal accident to have taken place. Without a word, Dorries 
quickly slipped behind her, took the escapee carefully down from its 
elevated perch and put it back into its glass case 1 

Later, Heinrich and I threatened all our animal attendants with 
immediate dismissal if any of them failed to observe the precautions 
prescribed for work in handling the animals. Unfortunately, nearly all 
men who have to handle animals every day of their lives tend to become 
too trustful, for everyday contact with danger leads inevitably to in- 
difference. Most accidents with animals have only one cause lack of 
caution on the part of the victim. 

Thus, one of Richard Sa wade's attendants, no doubt wanting in his 
boss's absence to show off to an audience, dared to enter the carni- 
vores' cage with only a brush and shovel. Before the eyes of the on- 
lookers the man was torn to pieces on the spot. 

A similar case was that of a certain retired bank employee. To 
please him, he was given a summer job by Father as a park attendant. 
During the season we always needed a large number of auxiliary men 
to keep people from running over the grass lawns, picking flowers, or 


9 AML 


climbing over the barriers. This retired bank clerk had often seen my 
father go into the lion pit unarmed, but the unfortunate man was 
apparently ignorant that the tamest lion turns into a wild beast the 
instant a stranger approaches it with stick or whip in hand. That is 
just what this unfortunate man did. He took a whip from its hook in 
the ante-room and, alcohol-brave, entered the pit. Immediately a 
male lion rushed at him, knocking him down. He yelled loudly, and 
the lion shook him as a terrier will shake a rat. The fact that this lion, 
which we had bought from the Balfertein Menagerie, had had its teeth 
filed flat and that the bank clerk had on a thick winter coat allowed 
us to hope that the man's life might still be saved. 

Alarmed by the cries of the visitors who were present, Heinrich 
rushed to the spot. At the same time one of our nephews raced to the 
office and brought out one of the revolvers which we kept ready to be 
used with blank cartridges. The attendant meanwhile had got the 
other lions into the inner compartment, but the old male was still 
gripping his victim, growling all the time. Without taking aim, 
Heinrich fired at close range. To his horror, the lion staggered away, 
as if hit. 

The fact was, with the best of intentions, the lad had loaded with a 
live cartridge, but had not warned Heinrich that he had done so. My 
brother, of course, was now afraid lest he had also wounded the man. 
The lion had dropped him, and he now lay lifeless. 

The lion crept away into the inner cage, and the bank clerk was 
carried out. There was a doctor to hand, but, though he was rela- 
tively unhurt by the lion's teeth, the bank clerk was past medical aid. 
Shaking him, the animal had banged his head against the concrete 
floor and smashed in his skull. Heinrich' s bullet had indeed hit the 
lion, and I was obliged to put the animal out of its pain with my heavy 
hunting gun. Thus through sheer lack of elementary caution on his own 
part a man lost his life, and so did one of the sweetest- tempered lions 
which we had ever had. The animal had been such a pet that the little 
son of his former tamer had regularly ridden him about the yard as if 
he were a rocking-horse. 

The relatives of the former bank clerk now claimed substantial 
damages, but without result, for the court accepted the evidence that 
all our employees were strictly forbidden to cross the barriers put up 
to keep visitors out of danger, unless in the company of the tamer or 
trainer specifically detailed to handle any particular animal. 

In these years my family saw me only as an occasional guest at our 



new house at Lokstedt. Two younger men were absorbing a lot of my 
time both in the office and the animal park, for they were learning 
the business. They were both called Carl after their grandfather 
and while one also bore the second name of Heinrich, after his father, 
the other was my own son, Carl Lorenz. They were to follow us in the 
firm. Carlo and Heinchen, as they had been called since infancy, were 
one heart and one soul, a most important point for any enterprise in 
which two partners have equal responsibilities and rights. 

For all my own father's good intentions and contrivances I had 
always in all respects inevitably been rather in the shade of Heinrich, 
who was seven years my senior, and had so much more experience in 
the firm. Though in the end we did come to work together always in 
the greatest harmony, there were by the nature of things bound to be 
differences of basic outlook between us. I remember one time when 
our discussion in the head office reached such a point o( fortissimo that 
it was our two wives as close friends as any blood sisters could have 
been who had the job of pouring sufficient oil on to the troubled 
waters. I cannot tell you how contentedly, after this process, their 
replete husbands puffed at their cigars and chatted about nothing 
in particular 1 

Here, however, let me remove any misconception. I cannot em- 
phasise too much that Heinrich and I never ceased to drive hard to- 
wards the same goal. Our differences were never more than about how 
to get there, and even when we were silver-haired we had many a 
tussle about that sort of thing. We both had inherited my father's pig- 
headedness. We also both had powerful fists, and as the debate waxed, 
so did the blows on our desks, till the ink-pots danced. 

There was, however, one occasion on which we actually found our- 
selves in conflict as leaders of opposing armies, though this was not 
occasioned by any difference of opinion of our own. But let me intro- 
duce the 'armies.' In a corner of the park we had a party of Bedouins 
encamped in their tents. My nephew Heinrich had devised pyramids, 
a sphinx and some mosques, to produce a really Egyptian backcloth to 
this scene, which included a 'native bazaar,' inclusive of memento stall 
and a display of picture postcards, a business which flourished when- 
ever the proud sons of the desert were not distracting the Hamburg 
folk's attention by their riding displays. 

Not far from here a contingent of Somali folk had erected their own 
mud huts. Here our orthodox Moslem friend Hersy Egeh ruled over 
his tribe, and when these were not enacting war dances or dromedary 



races or grilling mutton over open fires as part of the programme, 
they were busy selling 'black sugar-cane* to the gaping visitors. This 
sugar-cane was for chewing, and I may remark that it combined the 
functions of a tooth-brush and chewing gum, two concepts still 
unknown in Somaliland, though our good Somalis also sold picture 
postcards quite well. Here in fact was the potential cause of a bitter 
trade war, and one morning this did break out in all earnest. 

Suddenly the animal park rang with war-cries. The women began 
to shriek and blows rained down on turbans and fuzzy Somali heads 
alike, while Heinrich and I, unbeknownst to each other and by differ- 
ent paths, rushed to the scene and from different sides I Hence Hein- 
rich appeared in the Somali village, while I took my place among the 
Bedouins I We pressed through the crowd on either side till through 
showers of stones we reached the scene of the mlee. Not one man 
paid the least attention to our words, or rather, they paid the wrong 
sort of attention, for each side apparently took our presence in their 
midst and our shouting as approval, support, even leadership. 

For a few moments the battle grew still fiercer, now that each side 
was led by one of the white chiefs. That tried our patience, till, seeing 
each other, we were able to combine our efforts, bringing our sticks 
down lustily on whatever heads came under them, till at last, with 
Hersy Egeh's valiant support, we secured peace. The Bedouins were 
the first to lay down arms, and as we now discovered that they had 
also been the first to take them up, we suggested they might like a 
little sightseeing trip round Hamburg. Scenting baksheesh, they ex- 
pressed their readiness, and in the little tour we included a 'visit to a 
steamship.' Once we had got them on board that, we made very sure 
they did not get ashore again. In short, we dispatched them back 
whence they had come in very short order, and from then on had 
peace in the park. 

Such was the Battle of Stellingen, totally ignored by all manuals of 
history, since it proved possible to smooth things out merely with 

It went without saying that when peoples from far-distant, out-of- 
the-way corners of the world made their first contact with large 
European cities, there were many strange incidents. There was that 
awkward moment when Heimich's satisfaction with some brave Sioux 
was somewhat clouded by finding his favourite household pet Flora 
grilling over their camp fire. One man's meat was clearly another 



man's poison or vice versa. But we found Hersy Egeh and his men on 
the whole a pleasure to work with. 

During this particular summer stay in Hamburg, Hersy Egeh gave 
expression to his desire to see his pet son Ali receive some measure of 
German schooling, and the nearest and most suitable place for him to 
get knowledge which would be useful at home seemed to be our 
Stellingen primary school. So there young Ali went, and readers can 
imagine the excitement he caused when he sat side by side with my 
nephews and nieces on the school benches. He was a bright lad, spoke 
Low German like any other real Stellingen urchin, and there were 
many occasions when his homework was shown to the whole class as 
an example of how to do it. 

But his school career ended sharply. He was living as a member of 
my brother's family, and had he not been too forthcoming and too 
interested in Heinrich's revolver perhaps he would have got further. 
But on one occasion, when he had been left alone in the house, he 
wanted to play the hero no doubt so that we should all praise him 
and reward him. So he staged a burglary which he was supposed to 
have prevented, and to make it all the more realistic he fabricated 
visible signs of the struggle and as conclusive evidence of the in- 
glorious business concealed Heinrich's gold watch. My brother heard 
Ali's Oriental story of armed bandits to the end in utter amazement, 
but despite the boy's many convincing gestures and eloquent descrip- 
tion he had his doubts. Indeed, the doubts became so great that 
eventually he put Ali over his knees and gave him a good Hamburg 
dusting, whereupon howling Ali confessed everything, and with a 
broken elementary school career travelled back to Africa, where for 
years after he puzzled Hamburg captains bunkering at Djibuti by his 
Hamburg eloquence. 

Shortly before the outbreak of the war we had our last message 
from him from a ship's captain, and I was genuinely pleased a little 
after this to have a long letter from him. Now the proud father of a 
substantial troop of children, he sent me some snapshots. His own 
much lamented father, Hersy Egeh, had died some years previously, 
and with him the age of the proud chiefs of those parts vanished for 
ever. As business man equipped with foreign tongues, Ali now wore a 
smart double-breasted suit, but it was clear that he still hankered after 
the old days of his childhood at Stellingen, when he used to edify the 
young bloods of Hamburg with his wild war-dances. 

Somewhere in the South Seas there must also be a coffee-skinned 



beauty who, by bearing a birth certificate with the rubber stamp of 
Stellingen parish council, must have puzzled many an official of her 
own far-off island. This Kanaka girl was born in our park on July 2 ist, 
1931, when our very last party from New Caledonia were dancing 
their hula-hula dances. She herself was to be better at the foxtrot. As 
a matter of fact, whenever they danced we had to rig out these Melane- 
sians with their national costumes, making them up on the model of 
those in the Hamburg Museum, and I very much doubt if their grand- 
fathers would ever have ventured to sea among the coral reefs in the 
canoes which they cobbled up for our shows. When performances 
were over for the day, they all dressed in ordinary European clothes 
and went out to Hamburg's Reeperbahn for their own recreation. 

The original simple life, the hand-fashioning of native weapons and 
tools, the tribal festivals and customs, all those things which made the 
earlier of our great folk exhibitions so attractive to people all that 
was already gone. Progress cannot be halted, the wheel of history 
allows no reversal. Radio, the press and above all the cinema have 
touched the remotest corners of the world, including those from 
which our exhibitions came. Once upon a time the journey to Ham- 
burg had been the greatest adventure in the life of Eskimos, Tierra del 
Fuegans and Australian aborigines, one from which they returned 
home with their minds enlarged, the envy of their fellows, but the last 
of these peoples to come to Hamburg had more or less been merely so 
many show artistes offering a programme. Thus that cheerful little 
'folk-wandering* which for fifty years had given Europeans a concrete 
idea of what other far-off peoples had looked like and had taken our 
name to the igloos of Greenland, the tepees of Alaska and the pile- 
dwellings of the South Seas was over. 

While Heinrich devoted himself principally to developing the animal 
park and the animal supply business which depended on this, I looked 
after oversea enterprises, handled circus work and to use the charm- 
ing business expression travelled 'in animals.' Thus it was that during 
one of my many North American journeys in the rising motor-car 
town of Detroit, where thousands were already working on Henry 
Ford's conveyor belt, I came upon an old acquaintance. Ten years had 
changed him too, but his unusual tie-pin disposed of any doubt. It 
was John Millen, our old Stellingen ostrich farm manager. 

John Millen imparted a piece of news which made me prick up my 
ears, namely Detroit was thinking of creating its own zoo. There were 
enough dollars available, all that lacked was the man to plan it and the 



man to manage it. Ah, those were lacks which could soon be filled! 
We hired a car at once and did a round of the city fathers, in which I 
did not fail to speak in praise of 'an American with zoo experience 
named John Millen,' with reference to Stellingen and to all the zoos 
we had founded in both Europe and America. In due course Millen 
did become manager of the Detroit Zoo, and the firm of Carl Hagen- 
beck got the job of construction and the supply of animals ! 

The following year, Heinrich himself went to Detroit to complete 
the plans for and supervise the construction of the various free animal 
compounds. We supplied all the animals, and the only slip-up was that 
on the opening day the polar bears strolled out to meet the public. In 
fact, Heinrich had refused responsibility for this particular detail, the 
bear-pit, which had been ready when he took over, with a protective 
moat so narrow that my boy Carlo, out there with his uncle, could 
leap it without any great effort. Such a jump was of course nothing 
for a polar bear, and it was indeed lucky that those who did get across 
were only young animals and nobody was hurt. Today the Detroit 
Zoo, which since then has been enlarged, is considered one of the 
loveliest in the United States. 


IN THE spring of 1929 the s.s. Parana brought our circus back to 
Hamburg from Brazil. Personal pleasure at seeing Richard Sawade and 
many of our old employees again was, however, rather overshadowed 
by the bad business outlook in Germany. The Young Plan lay like a 
nightmare on our country. From 1930 to 1988 we were to pay 
60,000 million Reichsmarks, which with interest and interest on 
interest meant over 100,000 million marks. From every advertise- 
ment site, placards showed us grandfather, father and son together 
pulling the family plough weighed down by War Guilt. It expressed 
both the mood and the position of Germany. As for circuses, it was 
easy to assess our position by the terrible rivalry which had developed 
between Sarrasani, Krone, Busch, Strassburger, Gleich Althoff and 
ourselves, to name only the largest. We were fighting each other for 
strictly limited available gate money. With particular fierceness flared 
the battle round that publicity-powerful superlative, * Germany 9 s 
Biggest Circus,' an expensive ambition which had never really ruled us 
at Stellingen. Who was going to be so silly as to estimate Hagenbeck's 
enterprises by the number of their wagons, animals or man-power? 
Had not Carl Zuckmayer written : 'In Hagenbeck's the circus pure of 
classical antiquity lives on, a cultural institution, just as the Kroll 
Opera or Reinhardt's productions once were, and as noble a passion 
as any great national festival.' 

Neck and neck in this chase after the superlative were Hans Stosch- 
Sarrasani and Carl Krone. Addressing the beloved inhabitants of the 
town to which he had come, with the pathos of a tribune of the people 
Hans Stosch would compose his whole-page newspaper ads, and he 
would flood whole districts with twopence-coloured adventure book- 
lets telling the young folk wonderful things about the Maharaja of the 
Ring and his elephant herd. He ran his own publicity aircraft, mainly 
highly unsafe fighter aircraft of the first world war, which banked 
dangerously round church spires or flew under river bridges. In 
short, he made himself the European Barnum of advertisement 

Carl Krone gave him tit for tat, with all the confidence moreover 



of an enterprise which was brilliantly run, both technically and from a 
business standpoint. But neither all this nor the costly lawsuits to 
which the outstanding big bosses resorted in their circus-like battle 
could really decide which was the biggest circus in Germany. 

Here let me put in a quiet word of explanation for the layman : the 
* bigness* of a circus can be measured in various ways. One is the 
seating provided by the big top, which is not to be measured purely in 
square feet of tent space, since there is a wide range of difference be- 
tween systems of seating. Nor is the number of people employed, or 
animals, or wagons the criterion, for these figures vary with the items 
on the bill and change from season to season. One cannot even judge 
by the total area a circus occupies. Rolling-stock can be parked tight 
packed or well spaced. Besides, when it comes to that, even white 
mice can be a big circus attraction, so that the mere number of the 
animals means nothing whatever by itself. The question indeed would 
never have found an agreed touchstone were it not that municipal 
authorities tend to put one single test forward when rival advance 
agents apply for permission to visit a town. 'How many elephants 
have you got?' they ask, on the supposition that the possession of 
those giant animals is a safe indication of the worth of an enterprise. 
But even here one had not finished with rivalries. For, when they were 
suddenly thus put in demand, we sold Jumbos like hot cakes, till both 
rival shows were carting round with them the * biggest elephant herd in 
Europe.' If one spoke of twenty beasts, the other at once bought its 
twenty-first, even if it were only a stunted baby thing. The principal 
desideratum was that the animal should have a trunk and be designated 

We began to feel sorry for our opposite numbers, and with the 
assistance of a neutral Berlin theatrical agency Heinrich at last invited 
them both to a little party, and after a very good spread the hatchet 
was buried in cigar smoke. Sarrasani, who had toured South America 
on Hugo Stinnes' loans and in Hugo Stinnes' ships, from then on 
advertised himself as 'The loveliest show of the two worlds,' while 
Carl Krone, who had never been out of Europe, agreed to call his 
circus 'Europe's biggest.' And so it remained, till these two devotees 
of the circus were no longer in this world. 

Before these two biggest circus managers ended their little war, 
the s.s. Parana discharged her cargo in Hamburg docks, and we raised 
our own big top over the Hamburg Heiligengeist Field. Beside the big 
tent we had used in South America we erected another, a rather smaller 



one, for the animal show. All our stabling tents were ranged round the 
sides of a big open square, within which we could tether forty-one 
elephants. This herd was made up of the animals of both our circus 
programmes and the Stellingen Animal Park, which had just been 
enriched by a new contingent from India. That elephant assembly was 
an imposing sight, not without its publicity value in daily and weekly 
press. But it was only a momentary demonstration for the official 
elephant counters. After our opening shows at Hamburg, our larger 
enterprise went to Scandinavia and the smaller to Holland, and then 
we resumed at once our practice of taking with us only just as many 
elephants as we required for pure circus work. But in the initial dis- 
play we also showed elephants which we generally used solely for 
loading purposes, including them as the Bunder-men* in the final 
'pyramid', the item in which the elephants march out, each with its 
front feet on the back of the one in front. We also showed some 
African bull elephants, which later had to be withdrawn, for when on 
heat it is too dangerous to let elephant bulls come into a circus. When 
we paraded through the streets we always took great precautions 
against accidents. 

Circus managers have an additional worry, which they share with 
captains of ships. They too are dependent on wind and foul weather 
and every day you will see their eyes anxiously watching the tops of 
the tent poles, which are capped with pennants which give an idea 
of the force of the wind. Since the introduction of weather- warning 
systems, our enterprise was a regular subscriber, and thus, getting 
timely knowledge of approaching gales, we were often able to take 
proper precautions. 

But when we were just about to set out on our Scandinavian trip, it 
was not wind, but frost, which kept us at Stellingen day after day. 
Everything was ready, but artistes and tent men alike had to cool their 
heels, for day in, day out, our advance men reported frost, so hard 
that there could be no thought of erecting a tent one could never 
have driven in the tent irons. 

At last, however, the news came through: it was thawing. Out 
steamed our trains. Working at great stress, our men erected our tents 
at Malmo in record time. The first night was an enormous success. 
Spurred by malicious newspaper reception, every man strove to give 
his very best to secure support, and Malmo was most enthusiastic. A 
success like that was noised abroad, and when they saw our bills the 
country folk of the agricultural province of Schonen simply poured in. 



Hagenbeck? Yes, that was something they had heard of, that was the 
German circus which all Malmo had hastened to see. 

One day, however, I could scarce believe my eyes. Before my eyes I 
saw a quite small circus come in, and slyly put up its bills neatly under 
ours. Impudence which cost them nothing, for they were getting all 
the advantage of the publicity for which we had paid. Many good folk 
who went into that smaller tent were certainly rather surprised, for 
our bills promised items very different from what these little folk 
offered. But a circus war abroad can be a two-edged sword, and there 
was only one sensible thing to do: beat them to it. In any smallish 
town it was no use waiting for the quality of a programme to become 
its own publicity. One's first house must be filled by one's own 
advance advertisement. So : full speed ahead ! And in one night we put 
a good fifty miles between ourselves and that small circus, and after 
that everything went well. Linkoping, Norrkoping, Nykoping. On 
we went with our Wanderings with Man and Beast as our good friend 
Paul Eipper called his favourite book. He had spent three weeks 
travelling round with us in perfect bliss, and every page of that book 
breathes the whole spirit of the sawdust ring. An animal-lover with 
the eyes of a poet, during this Swedish tour he discovered the real 
romance of a circus on the road. 

Meanwhile I had gone to Holland, to look after our other enterprise, 
bringing back with me a few items with which I intended to enrich 
our Scandinavian programme when we reached Stockholm, which is a 
'difficult' town, its people reserved and exacting. In addition, there 
was a Swedish circus manager who seemed to forget that he had once 
brought his circus to Germany, for he now filled the local press with 
cries of protest that we should ever have come to Sweden. In any case, 
cinema and theatre entrepreneurs are no circus-lovers, and of course, as 
permanent advertisers in the local press, they have a certain press pull. 

No matter, what could the heroes of screen or stage do against our 
stalwart swart-headed Somali warriors? What were silent film close- 
ups against the profound, heart-stirring beat of the drums which 
accompanied the fantastic leaps of our Indian devil dancers? The 
exotic romanticism of our big top with all its lights, the roar of the 
lions, the trumpeting of the elephants and the hoarse snarls of the 
royal tigers broke through Stockholm's ice. There had been no big 
circus in the city for thirteen years it was in 1913 that we had 
played there last and the folk streamed in their thousands to our 


We made a discovery. The Stockholm Folk Museum still had a 
silver-plated sword, a hippopotamus-hide shield, a brightly coloured 
straw mat and a set of earthenware pottery which Hersy Egeh, then 
chief of our twenty-three Habraval warriors, had proudly presented 
to Professor Lindblom. Here, now, in the North African section, the 
old chief came upon a picture which made him most excited, for it 
was of a young Somali chief bursting with vigour. 'But that is me ! ' he 
cried, his kindly face beaming all over, and in his broken English he 
explained that this picture had been taken at the Somaliland exhibition 
i n London thirty-four years before 1 Pride to find himself thus pre- 
served in this temple of knowledge suffused Hersy 's black features. 

We played at Stockholm for a month, but by that time the protests 
had run all the way up the ladder to the top, and, lest the circus take 
too much money out of the town, the municipal authorities terminated 
our permit. 

In the friendly small town of Vesteros we had another battle of the 
peoples, this time between denizens of India and Africa twenty- 
three Somalis on the one hand, twenty-one Indians on the other. Both 
parties had the right to sell postcards of their peoples on the circus 
ground, a profitable undertaking, apart from the fact that such a sale of 
postcards helped towards the rapprochement of black and white. But an 
Indian lad was said to have seduced a customer from the Africans, and 
it came to blows, both sides using spears and clubs. There was a 
pitched battle, the contestants egged on by their womenfolk. They 
fought with whatever they could lay hands on. 

Of course, our permanent staff separated them as soon as they could, 
but not before three men had been taken to hospital. But we did suc- 
ceed in restoring order before the Swedish police arrived on the 
scene, and that was fortunate. As a precaution, I disarmed both 
parties and locked the weapons in a truck. But that was far from being 
the end of it. The Indians had a spokesman, and he made a great 
speech on the surface formal and European, but very Indian under- 
neath. They required me within twenty-four hours to decide whiqh 
party was to stay. There was no room for them both. I had no inten- 
tion of giving way to this, so I lined them up in the paddock and made 
my own little speech, pointing out that we were not in Sweden to 
fight each other, but to earn money, all of us. Hersy too contributed 
a speech, with his men repeating whole phrases after him, after which 
they went boldly up to the Indians and offered them their hands. The 
leader of the Indians now felt it his turn to make a speech. His name, 



in the books, was nothing less than Kiriwakkewagederanaida, and 
Kiriwakkewagederanaida demanded a postcard sales demarcation line. 
Speeches continued. Hersy, for instance, told a young Indian orator 
that he had dandled him as a baby in South America. But if they had 
time for endless debate, I had not, so I divided the circus into two 
parts, as far as postcard sales went, and laid it down that they were to 
take turns at the better site. Bravo ! Peace was declared at last ! 

I should, however, record that such conflicts were so rare that 
these two which I have recounted here are in fact the only ones that I 
recall. The Oriental peoples were always particularly well behaved. 
Indeed, many a European circus performer might take an example 
from them. The Chinese and Japanese were in fact most dignified, 
and lived so withdrawn into their families that it was a delight to work 
with them. 

At Oslo one day I had two boxes decorated with the Norwegian 
colours, and punctually at four an automobile drew up, from which 
emerged tall King Haakon and his party, which included an English 
princess and her husband, their two fair-haired children and their 
young equerry. Despite the terrible downpour of rain, the gentlemen 
were wearing bowler hats. That, however, was so usual in Norway that 
one could even see workmen going to work in them. 

Before he led the way into his box, King Haakon shook my hand. 
During the performance he laughed heartily at the antics of our clown 
and clapped his friendly approval. Our animals too did their best, as 
if they knew they were going to delight a king with their art an 
occasion which today has become more rare in the world. Neverthe- 
less that clumsy lout our African elephant Safari would insist on 
squirting a trunkful of sand at the Royal Box. That certainly did not 
please, though it was soon forgotten, for the team of ten of which he 
was one caused real delight. 

The next king whose hand I was to shake was Fuad of Egypt. My 
son Carlo and I received him in state at the main gate of Stellingen, A 
lively exchange of conversation developed as I showed Fuad round, 
with the result. that the same year Carlo was able to bring the first 
living Abu Markub from Egypt, i.e., the 'father of the shoe,' or shoe 

In this same year we received from the Arctic and Antarctic, from 
Alaska and Africa, large contingents of animals for Stellingen: ten 
walruses from Greenland, four hundred and forty hooded baboons 
from Abyssinia, Fritz Essler for the eighth time brought sea-elephants 



and king and gold-crest penguins from the Antarctic, while Heinrich's 
efforts in Alaska led to the arrival of the first giant bears (Ursus 
middendorfi meriam) from the Alaskan island of Kodiak. This bear 
weighed 2,640 Ib. and was over nine feet high when erect. 

For a few days a new twelve-foot-long giant shark (Selache maxima L.) 
brought Hamburg folk out to Stellingen. This big fish weighed four 
tons. It had been caught on the Atlantic coast. One of the nets of a St. 
Pauli fishing boat had fouled its gills, much to the subsequent delight 
of our polar bears, who derived nicely rounded tummies therefrom. 

Nearly every day I had to interrupt my desk work at Stellingen, 
and my poor secretary used to sigh whenever she heard that so-and-so 
had arrived among my visitors were the curator of the Parisian 
Jardin des Plantes, Henny Porten the actress, the commander of the 
Argentinian training ship President* Sarmiento, and Prince Takamatsu of 

Fortunately, however, both we 'old fellows' now had a son to take 
some of the burden on his shoulders, or, should I say, on his younger 
feet, for one or other of them would be dispatched to do the eight- 
mile walk through the animal park, showing the sights. The alleys 
were now tortuous and long, but I could have described them in my 
sleep, and I, like any good museum guide, answered all the questions 
which nearly everybody asked at the same points, whether they came 
from Toronto or Johannesburg, from Sydney or Hammerfest. At 
Stellingen, they all became 'animal-lovers.' That made the real 
specialist all the more welcome a visitor. He did not ask, as all the 
others did, whether zebras were striped black on white or white on 
black, or if it was true that ostriches stick their heads in the sand. 

The fair sex understand the animal world entirely after their own 
fashion, by a system much simpler and of greater antiquity than that 
of Linnaeus. They divide them into pretty animals and ugly animals, 
though I would add that the dividing line fluctuates according to some 
sort of fashion law. I remember a charming young lady from Vienna, 
whom I was showing round, clapping her hands wildly when we came 
to the elephants and crying: 'Oh, do look, Herr Hagenbeck, what a 
darling little Jumbo that one is 1 * ' Yet this was an old bull elephant, 
weighing a good three-quarters of a ton. 

The creatures at Stellingen which most often get stroked, sur- 
prisingly enough, are two large snakes. The reptiles I mean, of course, 
are the giant bronze fountain snakes at the foot of the high Alpine 
Panorama ! Here, years back, we had once had two snakes who fought 



so over a piece of food that they got tied in a knot and fell into the 
water and were drowned. That inspired Joseph Pallenberg to make a 
bronze depiction of the battle, and as nearly everybody feels he has to 
caress these heads and bodies the reptiles are always beautifully 

Everywhere at Stellingen you would always see visitors, and one 
could have embraced each of them, for it was their steady patronage 
which made it possible to carry out our dreams. At the same time, 
there were other moments when one could have let oneself loose on 
them with a good cudgel, such as the occasion when we found a valu- 
able sea-elephant dead in his pool through having swallowed a small 
bottle which a visitor had thrown away in the water. 

As a class, it is our farming folk who are the visitors I respect most. 
No farmer would ever think of giving an ice to animals which eat 
herbage, or throw an apple to the sea-lions, or expect a lion to stand 
ten hours a day roaring and lashing its tail in the sun and pacing up and 
down, just because he happened to have taken it into his head to spend 
an idle afternoon moment passing by. 

Our country folk still have a natural understanding of the animal 
world, which unfortunately inhabitants of large towns have quite 
forgotten. The townsman demands entertainment and compels us to 
pro vide him with so-called amenities which have nothing whatsoever to 
do with a zoo as such. All the same, after the first world war Heinrich 
and I resolved never to open the so-called amusements park again. In 
its stead we introduced our children's circus, which under our worthy 
assistant Emil Kohrmann has in its twenty-five years* existence won a 
firm place in the hearts of our younger generation. 

In this circus, children act for children. There are ponies from 
our pony stud and numerous young animals to show their tricks. 
Today it is 'Uncle EmilY son and grandson who are carrying on the 

Like a giant magnet, the 1931 Colonial Exhibition in Paris drew 
streams of people out to Vincennes. It included peoples from all 
parts of the French colonial empire, from Cochin- China, Morocco, 
Madagascar and Tunis, with their houses, their ships and also their 
domestic animals. In comparison with the American world exhibitions, 
here one felt the much more artistic hand of the French. From the 
finest flowers of their colonial realm (the second in extent in the 



world), they certainly had made a lovely garland, a delight to the eye 
of the foreign visitor. 

Round miniature Lake Daumesnil, the island on which was trans- 
formed to an enchanted islet straight out of the Thousand and One 
Nights, were grouped pagodas from Laos, mosques from Syria, while 
those who had never seen the ruins of the mighty Angkor- Vat temple 
in the Cambodian jungle could marvel at a reconstruction of them 
which was in itself a monument to French architects. But when people 
had feasted their eyes on all these wonders, they streamed into the 
Colonial Zoo, which after the pattern of Stellingen my brother 
Heinrich had equipped with lakes and rocks and populated with a 
trainload of animals. 

It had not been an easy matter, for if we uprooted a single tree at 
Vincennes, we were liable to a penalty of ten thousand francs. It was 
only by dint of much negotiation that we were allowed to remove one 
single trunk which made it impossible to construct the large-scale 
elephant compound properly. Originally, Heinrich had asked the 
French to foot the building bill, while we were to supply the animals 
at our cost. The idea was that, after covering food and watering costs, 
the gate money should be divided between the exhibition manage- 
ment and ourselves. However, this proposal was not accepted, for the 
French wished to make the Colonial Zoo a special bonus extra of the 
exhibition, to be seen without any special entrance charge. So we 
were to be paid an inclusive fee for our work and the supply of all the 

However, in practice, such masses of people poured into our part 
of the show that there was some fear lest visitors would press beyond 
the barriers into the animal enclosures, so overnight, in the interests of 
safety, the management decided to rail off the Colonial Zoo and cut 
down the attendance there by a special charge. When the exhibition 
was over, we received a very courteous letter of gratitude from the 
Paris Municiplity, which intimated that, after deduction of all costs, 
the zoo alone had brought in six million francs ! 

The Colonial Zoo remained open three years longer, then it was 
decided on the same model to construct the big new Pare Zoologique 
du Bois de Vincennes, and this, beside the older Jardin des Plantes 
and the Jardin d* Acclimatisation, is the loveliest animal park in 

In the thirties, right through to the outbreak of the second world 
war, the word 'construction' was writ large for us at Stellingen. In 


Mosques and Singhalese villages at Stellingen. Such accurate reconstruc- 
tions formed the background to our famous shows of Peoples ol the World. 
Here we see Arabs outside a typical 'oasis town' 

Below: A dwarf zebu in harness in a typical village scene. In this 
e than one early German film was made 

'Black on white. 1 


fact, the large four-part African Panorama had (apart from the Arctic 
show) been the only cageless animal compound carried through com- 
pletely to Father's ideas. Now Heinrich built the 'Asia' section, a 
landscape divided into wet and dry covered-in portions, in which, past 
water-birds, antelopes, zebus and yaks, one had a view in the back- 
ground of a great free compound for elephants and rhinoceros. This 
layout was later to serve many foreign zoos as model for their own 
arrangements, but none has ever surpassed the Stellingen original in 
beauty or practical effectiveness. In 1931 the Prague Zoo was con- 
structed according to our plans and models, and in 1932 a large-scale 
Antarctic 'Pole Sud* show was opened in Paris. Further, the World 
Exhibitions of Brussels and Paris were equipped with zoo construc- 
tions by Heinrich, and here too Stellingen supplied the livestock. 



WHEN IN 1931 the unemployment figures exceeded the six million 
mark and one nearly needed a special certificate to be a street sweeper, 
business was so bad that we decided to keep only one circus on the 
road. The following year, with heavy heart, we implemented that 
decision. There was hunger in Germany, and veteran business men 
with years of experience behind them kept a worried eye on the 
political pendulum, wondering whether it was to swing to right or to 

My second son, Herbert, had been through the training of a 
Hamburg bank, and was now back from Detroit, where he had en- 
larged his knowledge. We had need of a man with the special know- 
ledge necessary to steer our many-branched enterprise through the 
ever more complicated tangle of currency regulations. But Herbert's 
heart was all on the side of the circus, the performing animal groups 
of which we sold in this year to Sarrasani for one hundred and twenty 
thousand marks. I make no secret of it, both of us, father and son, 
wept when Hans Stosch-Sarrasani left our Essen hotel room after we 
had signed away our elephants, our many zebus, our camels and our 
lovely horses. But there is inexorably all the difference in the world 
between parting from lifeless possessions and parting from living 
animals each of which one knows by name and has been partly 
responsible for bringing up. 

However, we still retained sufficient rolling-stock, tenting and 
animals to enter the arena again as soon as circumstances should per- 
mit. Herbert meanwhile took a job now with the Blackpool Tower 
Company, where he showed his ponies and, being a first-class horse- 
man, also did haute tcok work. At the same time, Rudolf Matthies and 
his tigers, and our other tamers and their groups, were found other 
engagements, while we wallowed in the work of our Atlanten Animal 
Park and business deals, trying to find a way out of the blind alley. 
Surely the world was big enough. There must be millions upon mil- 
lions in it who had never seen a circus. 

Then it flashed into my brain our solution was to go to the Far 
East, hi the night silence I can still hear Heimich bellowing: 'Lorenz, 



man alive, you've gone barmy !' For Heinrich was never a lover of in- 
calculable risks. He always refused to hand out more than there 
actually was in the kitty, and one had to admit that his cautious hus- 
bandry and rigid accounting had indeed piloted the firm through 
many a difficulty. 

But the Far East 1 The idea never left me day or night. And when, 
in June 1932, I found myself at a Rotary Club luncheon in company 
with Dr. Voretzsch, our Ambassador to Tokyo, who was visiting 
Hamburg, I asked him straight how the proposal struck him. 

'It's a grand idea,' he replied at once, 'and don't delay. I am going 
back through Siberia in a fortnight's time, it would be pleasant to have 
entertaining company on that long journey. ' 

However, that was a bit too soon for me to make up my mind 
completely, but all the same the Ambassador gave me the names of a 
number of people of whom I might make inquiries. The telegraph and 
airmail services to Japan got busy, and Dr. Knoll of the Tokyo Em- 
bassy was kind enough to do all he could to further my plan. Our 
interchange of correspondence was an object-lesson in high-speed 
long-distance advance-agent circus arrangements. There were very 
many things to be elucidated, for Japan was a circus terra incognita to 
us. The Tenno himself had heard of our efforts. Suddenly it was the 
wish of the Japanese to see Carl Hagenbeck's German circus open its 
doors simultaneously with a great Tokyo exhibition to be called 
Bankokofujin Kodomo Hakurankai which turned out to mean Mother 
and Child Exhibition. They requested us to make haste. That decided 
the matter ! It was Japan for us ! Out there, at a site I was yet to know 
called Shibaura, fifteen thousand square metres* of Japanese soil had 
been reserved for us. 

Together with my nephew and Fritz Wegner, who was our agent 
at the time, I had to pull up my socks. Not a bad idea, I thought, for 
folk setting off to Japan, where they would so often have to take off 
their shoes in private houses. We travelled by way of Basle and Rome, 
where we still owned zoos, and Naples, where we boarded 'Japanese 
soil' in the shape of the s.s. Terukini Maru, a Japanese steamship which 
was outstanding for three things impeccable cleanliness, silent 
service and obliging, smiling staff. This I needed, for the irritations 
and stresses of last-moment financial and shipping cares which just 
before we left all but cancelled this Far Eastern tour had given me 
jaundice. Now I sprawled on deck in a deck-chair, on diet, listening 

* Roughly four hundred yards square. Translator. 


to no radio and never reading the ship's newspaper, till the good cap- 
tain got really worried and began to wonder if the Japanese kitchen 
had disagreed with me. However, after twelve days' healing sea 
voyage, we reached Colombo, where we were of course entertained 
by Uncle John, who after the war had gone back to his business "as 
ship's chandler and plantation owner. 

Here I first heard the news that Hitler had become Chancellor of 
the Reich, and when Uncle John asked me what the man looked like 
I found I could not tell him, for since the end of the war there seemed 
to have been at least one, sometimes two, new occupants of the 
Chancellor's chair every year. 

'What now?' asked Uncle John. Fritz and I shrugged our shoulders, 
and the talk turned easily to our next question : What had happened at 
Stellingen since we left? 

A voluminous mail and newspaper cuttings gave us all the details. 
We had apparently chartered the ten-thousand-ton Hapag steamship 
Saarland, and under Heinrich and Sawade's specific instructions our 
Stellingen shippers of the rare name of Schmidt had undertaken to 
transform it into the most up-to-date Noah's Ark that ever crossed the 
Atlantic. For as Cook's is to the two-legged, so is Schmidt to the four- 
legged tourist. He knows all their airline and railway time-tables by 
heart, and if our animals could speak it would be to him they would 
turn and make their stipulations. Surprisingly enough, these would be 
for comfortable quarters, meals on time and calm seas ! 

As Schmidt told us later, to get that ship for us he chugged the 
rounds of the Hamburg docks in a blizzard, looking at every single 
bottom there, for the supply was greater than the demand, and he could 
take his choice of many. The docks were then a fine reflection of the 
economic crisis through which Germany was passing. But our require- 
ments were very special. We needed a steamer with very extensive 
deck space if we were to get all our circus wagons on board. There 
must also be roomy space between decks, and special facilities for load- 
ing. There must be ample space for stabling four hundred animals, not 
to speak of cabins for one hundred and sixty men and women, on that 
sea voyage of at least fifty days. For reasons of economy we were to put 
in at no other port but Hong Kong. 

s.s. Saarland satisfied most of these considerations. The only main 
structural lack was any fourteen-foot high compartment for the 
giraffes. Refrigeration was also insufficient and she lacked both a 
satisfactory water system (for the animals) and the requisite number of 



bunks (for the staff). So the next step was to dry-dock her, and get the 
hydraulic tools busy. Partitions were run up, conveniences were in- 
stalled. Profile-cutters let daylight into her sides, to make port-holes 
for the animals' quarters. 'Thermos' chests, to be packed with ice, 
provided cold storage for the tremendous quantities of meat which had 
to be taken. Special fittings were installed to protect valuable trained 
horses. We bought quantities of rejected mattresses to line the stable 

Every countryman will know that you cannot well keep horses in the 
stable fifty days on end. Consequently there had to be a trotting track 
on board. This was achieved by combining three holds aft and flooring 
them with specially grooved planking, to give the horses a grip. Simi- 
lar facilities for exercise were provided for the more exotic animals. 
The chimpanzees' quarters were best of all, for they and their atten- 
dants had the sunniest cabins. The cages and tanks for the camels, sea- 
lions and hippopotami were all on the upper deck. 

For a fortnight the giant Hapag steamer, now restored to life again, 
rang with the sound of machine tools, and then tugs pulled our Noah's 
Ark round to the Kaiser Wilhelm Dock, where men with paint pots 
added the great words 'CARL HAGENBECK, STELLINGEN' to her 
sides. Loading began on January ijth, 1933, the men working in 
shifts round the clock on a six-day plan which since many a long year 
Hervart Schmidt had worked out to the last dot on the *i' for Hagen- 
beck's. He throned it now in the smoking saloon, thence handling the 
twenty-two tons of horsemeat piled into the refrigeration rooms and 
all the trainloads of baled straw, hay, bread, turf and frozen fish. The 
whole thing was worked out to the minute, for every one of those 
minutes cost a lot of money in harbour dues. Every corner of that ship 
was utilised. For instance, there was provision for the workshops 
which every circus needs, for the men who handled the animals' food, 
even for the dung-carts to have a fairway to work in. 

Yes, Hagenbeck was loading up for Japan ! The news had thrilled 
everybody in Hamburg who had anything to do with cinema, radio, 
camera-work or press. They all flocked down to the quayside. The 
cuttings of press reports and pictures gave me a graphic picture of the 
departure. Elephants were snapped as they were swung on board well 
wrapped in padded canvas coats. For at Hamburg it was bitterly cold 
that evening of February 3rd, 1933. There was pack ice floating down 
the Elbe when our ark set sail for Yokohama. 

Making my way back at last on board the Terukini Mam I found that 



Stellingen had been cabling us, and I sent them a 'good luck* message 
back. It was exciting indeed to be on the way at last to that unknown 
Japan, with the knowledge that fast on our heels was coming our own 
specially chartered ten-thousand tonner with the whole circus on 
board. But the responsibility for this giant risk did at times seem to 
weigh heavy on my shoulders. What reassured me more than anything 
else, I think, was the knowledge that on board the Saarland was our 
best man, my good friend Richard Sawade. My two younger boys, 
Herbert and Erich, were going to have the experience of this big 
world circus tour under him my eldest, Carlo, had stayed at home, 
to look after Stellingen together with his cousin Carl Heinrich. 

Telegrams now began to fly between the Terukini Mam and the 
Saarland. The blood left my cheeks when Sawade told me that the 
great heat was getting the animals down badly. Happily, they soon 
recovered, once the Saarland got through the terrible Straits of 
Malacca and the fresher trades of the South Chinese Ocean blew in 
between decks. 

Impatient to set foot in Nippon, the Land of the Rising Sun, and see 
it with our own eyes, as soon as we berthed at Kobe Fritz Wegner and 
I took our hand valises and went ashore, leaving our trunks to go on to 
Yokohama without us. We went first to Kyoto, to get an over-all 
glimpse of the land and its people. I was also most anxious to see what 
the Kyoto Zoo was like. At once all my Madame butterfly illusions were 
washed away, by copious sleet and snow, which no clerk of the 
weather in old Hamburg ever laid on a man's umbrella better ! Visiting 
the zoo, I found only a half-frozen Japanese gentleman, wrapped as 
deeply as he could contrive in his kimono, squatting over a tiny 
charcoal fire and trying to warm hands and feet. 

To him we made advances in German, English, Spanish and French. 
But all he did was continue his huddle, as if apart from a fine 
ability to smile his senses were entirely frozen up. Rather despair- 
ingly, I handed my card to a young lady who suddenly came in. She 
too produced a smile, then turned to the huddled deaf-and-dumb 
gentleman. Now I did seem to have achieved something, for the 
contracted statue got to its feet, and, without a glance in our direction, 
vanished, a little later to bring back a couple of chairs to offer us. 

Another quarter of an hour crept by. Then suddenly the ice really 
did break. In came a lively young interpreter, who had lived long in 
the United States, and he made us very welcome. We now discovered 
that the dumb gentleman was not a curator, but merely another zoo 


visitor 1 I proceeded to make my first Japanese obeisance, for in that 
country, I had already learned, it is a mark of essential good deport- 
ment to honour any other person with whom one has to do with 
frequent bows. Moreover, in this proceeding, a junior person, or 
employee certainly therefore also the courteous foreigner should 
take good care never to be the first to call off the bowing. One should 
also not forget that while one bows A la Japanese, one should contrive 
a sharp intake of breath between the teeth ffffl ffff! ffff ! 

So we bowed and we hissed away, till, with the aid of the inter- 
preter, Mr. Suzuki, the zoo's curator, drew us into conversation and 
we were in due course shown over his zoo, where of course we came 
on all those things which together form so powerful a bond between 
animal-men all over the world. Gaily we chattered shop and exchanged 
experiences. Then Mr. Suzuki asked us to take a meal with him. And 
that is where the shoe- taking-off began. 

The scene was an unheated pavilion. There were plenty of straw 
mats about, but it was freezing cold. Hence we did not feel any the 
better for having our shoes off. Fortunately, we were almost at once 
served with tiny porcelain bowls of a very savoury and also very warm- 
ing soup. Then came the main dish and with it the famous Japanese 
chopsticks, handling which is a special art, demanding long practice, 
unless you choose to rise from table hungry. The word * table', of 
course, is an exaggeration. We were squatting in Japanese style on the 
floor on cushions. Thus squatting, and also bowing very properly 
indeed, we strove to convey some of the food from bowl to lips, a 
juggling turn which was only fragmentarily successful. 

Before me, I remember, lay a most appetising little parcel. It was 
a tang,* wrapped in a leaf and soused in a red sauce. Plunging head- 
long into these Japanese prandial antics, I prodded away and juggled 
my chopsticks till my palate suddenly informed me that the lovely- 
looking concotion, apart from the rice, was quite raw. Wegner and I 
chewed as bravely as we could, with, as one says in Hamburg, a long- 
tooth mouth, meanwhile keeping running a good commentary in our 
best Hamburg Low German dialect, which was always our custom 
abroad when we were not sure whether anyone nearby knew real 
German. Not that we wanted to disclose state secrets. It is merely 
something of a relief sometimes to be able to unburden oneself for a 
moment to a kindred soul. But by now Mr. Suzuki had guessed part of 
our trouble, and somehow he charmed European cutlery to our table, 
* A fish of tropical waters. Translator. 


Otherwise, we should have emerged from his house to continue our 
journey to Tokyo empty inside, if very well greased without! 

How beautifully Tokyo received us! Beside Kurahashi San,* the 
manager of the Tokyo Exhibition, stood his small daughter like a 
brightly coloured little doll, and as a sign of welcome she handed me 
a bouquet. At the same time all round flashed the bulbs of the camera 
pressmen. I was at the same time conscious of an enormous number of 
grinning faces looking at me while I bowed away like an animated 
pump handle. 

Next came the effort to distinguish one face from another. Just as 
apparently they find all Europeans as alike as peas, our eyes needed 
time to get used to the Asiatic physiognomy-landscape. I was, how- 
ever, at last rescued by our letter and telegram confederate, Dr. Knoll, 
and we were ceremoniously taken to the guaranteed anti-earthquake 
Imperial Hotel Teikoku, the following morning to be received by 
almost exactly the same numerous company, and make our first trip 
out to the proposed circus ground out at Shibaura. 

Well, and so there we were at last, at the fifteen thousand square 
metres reserved for us. But I wondered. The ground looked curiously 
soft. Indeed, it looked as if it had but recently been stirred up by a 
giant plough. Filled with misgivings I stepped forward on to the loose 
soil, and, to the evident delight of the Japanese gentlemen accompany- 
ing me (who seemed to accept the act as a sort of circus joke), I 
thrust my walking-stick down into it it slipped in easily right to the 

Heavens alive, here our heavy rolling-stock would be hopelessly 
bogged. I saw my nephew make his notes : hard core, lorries, steam- 
rollers ! But as the day wore on we found we had a great deal to jot 
down like that. And when, that evening, after a day of conferences and 
meetings during which much tea was drunk and many words were 
spoken we sank exhausted on to our beds to discuss the events of the 
day, we were still filling up the pages of those Required notebooks. 

Whenever in Germany our circus went anywhere it was of course 
understood that our business agents and publicity men had some sixty 
more or less arduous jobs to look after, but it was of course customary 
to deal with those during the preceding winter season. Besides, at 
Hamburg we only had to say the word and the printing firm which 
handled our printing knew at once all about runs of differently col- 
oured tickets, dates and times of performance, and so on and so forth. 

* San corresponds to our Mr. or Heir, and is placed after the Japanese name. 


But here the slightest matter had to be dealt with ponderously through 

True, the Japanese invariably rewarded our requests with courteous 
smiles and much bowing, but on the other hand we were never once 
quite sure that they had really understood or would execute the order 
on time. With the best will in the world it was impossible for them to 
grasp what a big European circus meant, and consequently they could 
have no inkling of its technical requirements. 

We had to find local staff quickly. Wages, in our eyes, were 
fantastically low. But whereas at home the pay desk was always occu- 
pied by one girl at a time, who both tore off the tickets and handed 
out change, here it appeared that one had to have two geishas, one to 
take the money, the other to hand out the tickets. Why could one 
girl not do both jobs? Did we ask: Why? Yes, we asked: Why? There 
would at once be smiles patient and enchanting. But no, Circus San, 
that was impossible! Circus San is what all ordinary folk called us. 
Only a few rose to Hagenbecku San. 

Our preparations now had to be constantly interrupted by numerous 
lectures and talks. I was asked to speak to the German- Japanese 
Society, the German Club, to give talks at the zoo, interviews to the 
press. I must say that we were most grateful to the latter. Day in, day 
out, they whetted the appetites of their readers with articles, inter- 
views and reports as to the position of the Saarland, that 'wonder 
ship* approaching their shores from out of the West. 

To make the tense excitement which developed more concrete, let 
me point out that in Japanese there is no word for giraffe. For this 
concept they use a sign which is known as kirin. Basically, kirin means 
dragon or fabulous animal. Well, and so was the Saarland not a 
'wonder ship/ since it had two kirins on board, the first ever to be 
brought to Japanese shores? 'Live kirins,' one supposed, to Japanese 
folk meant much what it would have meant had we told Hamburg 
that out at Stellingen we could offer them a glimpse of two Loch Ness 
monsters ! 


AT LAST the day had come ! There was the profound bass voice of the 
s.s. Saarland bellowing in Yokohama Roads, after her long voyage of 
thirteen thousand six hundred miles. Yes, Hagenbeck's Noah's Ark 
was really there, and its cries brought out a whole flotilla of cutters 
from the quayside. Customs men, port medical officers, quarantine 
inspectors, animal dealers and an army of journalists accompanied the 
motor-boat which took me out to her. 

How gay and bright on deck were our circus wagons ! Like magni- 
fied toy models, I found myself speaking. Our men had worked won- 
ders in the forty-eight days of their voyage. Everything was gleaming 
with new paint. Bravo ! And there at the rail was Captain Engell to 
greet me. I expressed my heartfelt thanks for his thus bringing his 
unusual cargo safe to its destination, and with forty-eight hours in 
hand too. And there were my own lads, sun-tanned, eager to get 
going. There too was Richard Sawade, my faithful substitute. Hand- 
shakes and greetings in nearly every tongue of Europe followed, for 
apart from Liechtenstein, Monaco and Portugal, every single country 
was represented among our performers, animal tamers and technical 
staff. Indeed, one old rascal was actually greeting me in Japanese. Hold 
hard, but who on earth could that be? 

Yes, I could believe my eyes, it was 'Yours ever, in the pink, 
Martell.' And though he certainly was not the inventor of brandy, he 
was already celebrated in his own way, having served as model for one 
of the giant figures of the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial on the Hamburg 
Courts of Justice in Sieveking Square. Sawade, I recalled, had rejected 
Martell's written application for a job, and then, at the last moment, 
took him on as reserve hand, and by the time the circus reached Japan 
Martell had undertaken to have produced a circus man's vade-mecum 
in the language of Nippon. Without hesitation I now sent him along 
to our publicity manager, and he was put in charge of our billposting, 
for though all the sections of our mammoth picture posters got sorted 
out all right, the same could not be said of the runners with letterpress, 
so Martell began work in Japan reshuffling all the advertisements for a 



firm called Genbeckha with which Japan was already busy plastering 

Later the head of the Tokyo 'Institute of Billposting* called on me 
and wished to apologise, but I reassured him. I told him that the 
'Welcome* which we thought we had up in good Japanese for years 
outside our famous red-lacquered Japanese Island Garden at Stellingen 
had been upside down, until one day a Japanese consul summoned up 
courage to point out the error. This information seemed to afford 
great relief. It was a very welcome saving of face. 

And what sort of trip had our folk had? 'Magnificent,' came the 
cries from all sides. Every evening the band played dance music. They 
had a swimming pool on board to cool off in, while under an awning 
aft our good interpreter Martell conducted regular classes in Japanese. 
He had spent much of the first world war at Kiaochow as a Japanese 
prisoner of war and he had learned the language well. Even my cook 
(whom I had been missing terribly) had done her best for though such 
dishes as Hamburg eel soup were her triumphs, she had prepared for 
life in Japan by getting Martell to inscribe in a handy notebook the 
Japanese hieroglyphs for all possible culinary needs. 

Losses on the voyage had been minimal. One of Casi's group of 
horses had died, but on the other hand while crossing the Indian 
Ocean the mare Oceana had foaled a fine son. The animals were in 
excellent condition when the photographers poured into every corner 
of the ship with their flashlight bulbs. In the cage -wagons they found 
forty lions, tigers and bears of all sorts roaring, pacing about, gam- 
bolling. In their tanks were sea-lions, bellowing hoarsely and busily 
cavorting. Every part of the world was represented by its animals. It 
was a sight to see those astonished Japanese below decks, staring at 
the giraffes, for the animals* heads, at the end of their endless necks, 
were somewhere up above the ceiling, busy at the mangers on the floor 

The finest incident, however, occurred .concerning our African 
rhinoceros. This was at once cordoned off by customs officers. Since 
antiquity, so it seems, the peoples of Asia have attributed a wide 
range of high qualities to this animal's nose-piece. For instance, well 
pulverised rhinoceros horn is reputed a source of great vigour. No 
wonder that it is considered worth its weight in gold, especially since 
Indian hunters long since reduced the rhinoceros there to a furtive 
remnant, highly protected by special game laws. The result was that 
Japanese customs regulations still envisaged a remarkably high customs 


duty for rhino horns, so before it was released we had to enter into 
a special written undertaking on no account to saw anything off our 
specimen* s boko. 

There was also a tremendous fuss about lethal weapons. Not only 
my sporting guns but also the blank cartridge pistols of our tamers and 
the practical-joke weapons of the clowns were all confiscated by the 
police. Only after long negotiations was I able to ensure that our 
tamers might use their pistols during shows. Before the item came on, 
a policeman was there to hand the pistols out, and with much polite 
smiling to take them in again when the performance was over ! 

A novel feature of the behaviour of the Japanese press was the way 
in which its reporters brought with them tiny bamboo cages contain- 
ing cooing carrier pigeons. These were later released from the Saar- 
land's deck, complete with little aluminium tubes of film or reports 
tied to their legs, and 'homed* to the roofs of the newspaper offices, 
so that a few hours later the Tokyo Nishi Nishi, Asahi Shimbun and 
what have you could disseminate the latest sensation throughout that 
city of millions of sandal-footed crowds: the fabulous ship had 
arrived! Animals known only to fairy stories had for the first time 
reached Japan ! 

Now we found that the two days which Captain Engell had managed 
to save on the way out most useful, for the unloading in Yokohama 
Roads was a much more difficult business than we with our European 
and South American port experience had foreseen. It started well 
enough. Out swung the derricks, there was the officer in charge at his 
post, with his megaphone, and there were Richard Sawade and my boys 
to assist him. Chutes came into position, holds were opened, donkey 
engines drew out the heavily loaded wagons. Harbour tugs were ready 
to keep up a steady shuttle traffic, pulling heavily laden barges from the 
Saarland to Ahibaura, and a canal led direct to this Tokyo suburb. 

Ah, but there was the snag ! That canal passed under bridges, and the 
bridges had not been built with sufficient clearance for any high- 
loaded vessel to pass. Because of this I had to appjy for a large floating 
crane. But this was not forthcoming at once, and I had to fall back on a 
contraption which, however worthy of respect as a museum piece, was 
hardly the tool for the job. It was worked by hand, eight men turning 
the windlass ! Only after an hour and a half of real grind did it succeed 
in getting one heavy lorry of scaffold poles ashore. Even so, a rope 
broke in the process and as the truck crashed to the ground our fore- 
man escaped by the skin of his teeth. Had he not had the presence of 


mind to fling Wmself flat on the ground between the wheels he would 
have been a dead man. 

Of course, he was furious, and had something rather pithy to say to 
the man in charge of that winding team. But that worthy only bowed 
and smiled. 

'Circus San,' he said in his broken English, 'we always unload like 
this, and we shall go on doing it like this. I should be very interested 
to see you do any better.' 

I intervened and tried to get the man to see what we wanted to have 
done, but he only kept up his grinning and bowed. He had understood 
absolutely nothing. Happily, at that point up came a German lecturer 
at Tokyo University. Our own interpreter at that moment had his 
hands or rather his tongue full on board the Saarland, so our 
academic friend now filled the breach and explained what we were 
after. We must have two of our track-laying tractors got ashore from 
the Saarland without delay. When this had been accomplished, 
though with no little difficulty, they were well anchored to the quay 
and used as tractive power units. After that we unloaded our stuff at 
the rate of one item every five minutes, though this, as may be imag- 
ined, was not nearly fast enough for our transport foreman, and as his 
every other word now became 'Hajaku!' 'Get a move on!' he was 
very soon known as Hayaku San 'Mr. Get-a-move-on ! ' and the 
name stuck to him throughout our Japanese tour. 

Hayaku, hayaku I Tokyo was flabbergasted at the speed with which 
we got our tents erected, for now we were moving fast in the mean- 
time our floating crane had arrived. Every time it took up a load 
circus wagon, lighting plant or hippopotamus tank it heeled over as 
if it too wanted to show our stuff Japanese courtesy. On the fifth day 
our pennants were already flying over our tents, and there was an 
uninterrupted shuttling of unloading crates from the Saarland to a 
fleet of barges, and elephants, zebus, llamas, camels, zebras came 
ashore. When it came to the giraffes, in their towering cages, as big as 
weekenders' cottages, out flocked the press boys again to see such 
mythical animals dangling from a modern crane. The interest was so 
real that we hit on the idea of sending the giraffes through the city, for 
publicity reasons, and behind the cages of the fabulous kirins a huge 
crowd fell in. 

Luck indeed was on our side. On the route we selected had been 
erected a huge wooden triumphal arch, a sort of gateway to the 
Mother and Child Exhibition, which was in full swing, but, alas, the 


arch proved too low pitched for our giraffes. Were the courteous 
Japanese dismayed? Not in the least. They at once sent for a team of 
men to take down the offending triumphal structure. I grasped what 
they intended to do just in time, put my foot down, said firmly : 'No 1* 
Instead, we managed the obstacle in much simpler fashion. Our men 
quickly unloaded our two lanky ladies, and on foot, on the ground, 
the fair giraffes found it quite easy to get under the archway, while 
without them on board sticking up their necks there was no difficulty 
about our caterpillar tractor pulling their carriage underneath. 
'Banzai!' 'Bravo!' cried the Japanese, who did not seem even to 
have thought of it. The crowd was most enthusiastic about that effort 
and the Tokyo evening papers had a lot to say about what good heads 
we had on our shoulders ! 

Next we dealt with the difficulty of our terrain. In spite of all the 
slag we had put down we had cleaned out all Tokyo's gasworks 
our site still proved too soft for our heavy wheeled stuff. Our wagon 
wheels cracked the square wooden water-conduits and our car- 
penters had a lot to do, mending and improvising at hayaku tempo. 

However, by now our traffic chief had mastered all his linguistic 
snags. To the word for 'Get a move on!' he had added four others: 
'Yellow/ 'Red, 1 'Come here' and 'Go there!' To his Japanese 
workers he had issued yellow and red arm-bands, and now, with the 
aid of most expressive arm and leg movements of his own, backed by 
many a pithy turn of phrase in good Palatinate brogue (which of course 
hurt nobody), he could put any men just where he wanted them. If he 
wanted a tool, he drew in the sand with his stick, and there was the 
tool. Indeed, in the end I got the impression that Hayaku San would 
have got his circus up just as well with a team of Eskimos. 

The Japanese, I should add here, are a very quick-witted people, 
most anxious to learn. One morning I had a call from the Japanese 
Chief Scout. He wanted me to take on some of his boys, of course 
paying them. They wanted to earn money to build a new centre, and 
in Japanese terms our wages were most attractive. As it was going to 
be most troublesome to take on and teach new hands in every town 
we came to, I said I was prepared to offer the scouts a job for the 
whole tour, and picked a team of the stronger senior lads, and they 
went through the whole of Japan with us. Our chief properties man 
took them under his wing and taught them how in a matter of seconds 
to carry a large carpet into the ring at the double and unroll it all four 
corners at once. They did their best, but during their initial training 


still seemed unable to comprehend our constant demand for celerity. 
I think that in their hearts of hearts they thought we were all a bit 

'Herr Circus,' said their troop leader to me one day, with all 
observance of politeness, 'why does everything with you have to be 
done in such a hurry? We have so much time before us, and there are 
also things which can be donej'uJbri (at your ease)/ Only when per- 
formances began did they understand at last what'it was all about, and 
then they turned into very loyal and also very nimble assistants. 

Before the official opening, there had to be a special performance 
for Her Imperial Highness the Grand Princess Kuni. When the day 
arrived, I felt obliged to ask the exhibition authorities to put the event 
off for a day. A storm was raging and we could not give a show with a 
clear conscience on the safety side. But what a problem postponement 
presented! We could not send the Empress Mother and her retinue 
home ! Heavens alive, no man dare suggest such a thing, least of all the 
exhibition management, who had rather prematurely made the 
arrangement. They had built a special pavilion for the august visitor, 
and punctually at four o'clock there she was. They assured me that by 
six the storm would abate, and indeed it did, and then the great lady, 
who for two whole hours had impassively observed the circus tent 
from her pavilion, tripped out on her high-heeled sandals, followed 
by her retinue, and with many a profound obeisance I followed her to 
her box. 

For myself, this performance, which was more like a general re- 
hearsal, was in many ways most unsatisfactory, but the Japanese saw 
with other eyes, and were all praise. Indeed, had they not been satis- 
fied, the Empress Mother would not have come four more times, till 
all the princes, princesses and other relations, each with their suite of 
ministers and high dignitaries, had seen the show. 

The very next day, Tokyo came pouring in, the entrance in Japanese 
fashion framed in tall bamboo scaffolding with crowns of honour. 
Every item awakened the greatest amazement. As they had translated 
some of their jokes into Japanese, our clowns got a wonderful recep- 
tion. All that grind on the school benches of the Saarland now bore 

As the sea-lions, camels, zebra and our magnificent horses had gone 
through their items in the open ring, the Japanese now came to the 
conclusion that the lions and tigers were going to do the same. Indeed, 
were those dangerous animals not depicted on our placards without 


bars? So far, all that the newspapers had promised had come about. So 
perhaps this would also materialise. And as they were quite incapable 
of understanding that within three minutes the central cage of iron 
bars would spring up and shut the ring off from them, the good 
Japanese took the precaution of flocking from their seats. However, 
the more courageous at least stayed at the exits, to peep back, and 
when they reported to their compatriots outside what preventive 
measures were being introduced, they all poured back again into the 
tent, and now for the first time saw the kings of the polar ice, the 
jungle and the steppes joined together in wonderful performing 
groups, for them to marvel at in safety from only a few feet distance. 

After our first performance there was great competition in Tokyo 
to entertain us circus folk. My own wagon filled up with flowers and 
presents, among these a costly samurai sword from the president of the 
exhibition committee. I could see that my room was far too small for 
all the many friends and visitors I should have, so I decided on a gala 
performance with a reception inside our big top. 

Yards and yards of cold buffet were installed on trestles, barrels and 
barrels of beer were rolled in, and the ring was transformed into a 
dance floor, while I took my guests on a tour of the animal show. In 
this way I contrived to return the great hospitality with which I had 
been honoured by the Germania Club of Yokohama, the German 
Association, and many German and Japanese friends. Our consul made 
a speech of gratitude in the name of the guests, while on the Japanese 
side the exhibition president, Kurahashi, spoke, ending, to great 
applause, with the words: 'Herr Hagenbeck, with your circus you 
have done more towards understanding between the peoples than all 
the diplomatists at Geneva.' 

Finally, I must record that one day I received an invitation in 
Japanese on expensive notepaper with the embossed imperial chry- 
santhemum. Our interpreter translated it: I was summoned to an 
audience by my gracious elevated patron, the Grand Princess Kuni. I 
had made her a twittering present of a pair of lovely Harz Mountain 
siskins, and this had captivated her heart. She had sent these little 
canaries to her palace to be court songsters. She kept me in con- 
versation a long time and I found her interested in a very wide range 
of subjects. When she received me she wore European costume, 
though she did not make such a striking figure in this as she did in her 
colourful Japanese kimono, in which she seemed to exemplify all the 
virtues and wisdom of her people. 

1 60 

Top: Rudolf Jurkschat, his Arab steed and team of twelve, a great 
feature of our touring circus 

Bottom: Richard Sawade with his lions and tigers at 'Hagenbeck's 
Animal Park, Stellingen 

A bird's-eye view of our canvas town whether at home or in far-off 
Tokyo, perfect order was the rule 

Meni, our working elephant, handled many a load of circus material 


One morning there was a great procession of Tokyo and Yokohama 
school children out to the circus. They marched singing and waving 
little flags. They were all dressed in blue blouses, girls and boys alike, 
the boys wearing trousers and the girls skirts. Their round little faces, 
aglow with anticipation, were like so many friendly little full moons 
shining out of their white Schiller-style collars. They were the most 
docile and disciplined children I have ever had as my circus guests. It 
gave me great delight to see their decent well-brought-up behaviour 
as they drew near and marvelled at our alien world of wonders. 



NOTWITHSTANDING THE fine attendances, we could not stay at Tokyo 
for ever. In the early days of our successful run there, I had gone on to 
Nagoya, while with friendly nodding head my wax double drove on 
through the streets of Tokyo. The Mother and Child Exhibition had 
fitted out a tram-car and two trailers as a sort of mobile advertising 
circus, and in this Noah's Ark on wheels stood a gentleman in festive 
morning coat and top hat Lorenz Hagenbeck San, more than life size, 
represented as the lord of a collection of stuffed animals and clowns. 
It was a delightful piece of advertisement for our circus. 

However, I had other cares besides balancing a drain-pipe on my 
head. 'The most you can put your show on at Nagoya for is four days,' 
I was told. 'No European theatre ever had a longer run than that. 
Besides, don't forget, Mr, Circus, it is the rainy season!' 

But Nagoya was Japan's largest industrial town, the country's source 
of consumer goods, working day and night. My mind went back to 
Essen in the Ruhr and our reception there, so, in spite of all those 
gloomy warnings, I risked the venture, particularly after the Nagoya 
Mayor, Mr. Oiwa, called on me in Tokyo and begged me to bring the 
circus to his city. He said I could count on his help. 

Now, as my Tokyo run ended, among the many invitations which I 
received there was one in Japanese which I confess I overlooked. One 
stifling afternoon, I had just got back to my hotel, exhausted, with the 
firm intention of taking a luxurious bath, when the telephone rang, 
and there was Richard Sawade, in a state of great excitement, asking 
me if I had forgotten my luncheon? Yes, my gala luncheon at the 
Ueno Park Hotel! 

'And what may all that be in honour of?' I asked him rather tartly. 

'Goodness gracious, man, but have you forgotten that the Grand 
Princess Kuni has asked you to a private farewell luncheon with her. 
You are late ! She has been waiting for the last hour ! ' 

I don't think I ever put on a morning coat with greater alacrity. 
Indeed, I did so with such haste that I completely forgot to change my 
shoes, and it was only when the taxi was rushing me thither that to my 
horror I saw that I was wearing brown shoes. But however awkward 



that was, it was not nearly so awkward as it would have been to keep 
my august hostess waiting any longer. As I thus reflected, my taxi 
drew up at the Ueno Park Hotel; there were two smiling court 
marshals doubled up before me at the entrance, and I sped up the 
steps, only ninety minutes late. With profound bows and much zaA- 
za/i,* I most humbly begged pardon in my broken Japanese. But her 
Imperial Highness only smiled. I was apparently forgiven. Later, I 
received a silver cup to remember this farewell audience by. 

For eight weeks the folk of Tokyo had been pouring in to our circus. 
Now came the dismantling, and this was made to look like a mobilisa- 
tion. The Japanese Minister of War sent a party of high-up Army 
officers to study our methods of packing men, animals and equipment. 
Forty-two stationmasters from the Tokyo-Nagoya line were present 
for the same reason. When, strictly according to schedule, both our 
special trains were loaded up, it suddenly transpired that the tunnels 
were too low for our dwelling wagons, loaded on platform trucks 1 

This information brought our good foreman Hayaku some more 
grey hairs. While, legs tucked under them, the Army engineers and 
the railway brass hats were still sipping tea, and discussing all the 
possibilities and feasibilities with Asiatic calm, our good foreman had 
already reached his decision, and the work of taking the wheels off all 
our road wagons had begun. For the next twenty-four hours our staff, 
assisted by railwaymen, were busy with jacks and hoists, till our whole 
crocodile of orange-blue lay on its belly, its wheels packed separately, 
and the locos could whistle for departure. 

The publishers of the Nagoya newspaper, Shimbun, wanted at all 
costs to serve their Mayor and city well. They had called on me in 
Tokyo to propose taking the whole of our publicity on themselves on 
a basis of fifty per cent, of the menagerie's gate, and this I had accepted. 
Now the Shimbun got going, million editions of issue after issue flying 
trom its rotary presses. There were whole-page spreads of pictures, 
reports, interviews, cartoons, advertisements, all concerned with 
Hagenbeck. Shimbun reporters poked into every corner of our dwelling 
wagons. Their aircraft photographers banked dangerously round our 
circus masts, they crept into the elephant wagons, they worked side 
by side with our stable boys. And, of course, as pressman's standby 
there was also the wondrous Jb'rin, never before seen in Nagoya. 

* i.e. the polite audible intake of breath. Translator. 



The very first day, the circus tent was completely surrounded by an 
enormous throng of people. At the menagerie box-office there was a 
four-deep queue. It stretched all round us, growing every minute. 
Having sold out its advance-booking tickets for both circus and 
menagerie, the Nagoya Shimbun with thoughtless enthusiasm had 
immediately printed and sold more! Without delay I rang up the 
editorial office to convince them that the circus was not made of 
elastic; however many tickets they printed, the seating would not 
expand. Fortunately, the numbered tickets had only been sold once, so 
it was easy to exchange the others for later tickets. 

By now, every tea-house in Japan was singing a popular song about 
us. One heard it ground out on records everywhere, all tea-house 
singers sang and played it. Switch on the radio, and ten to one we 
would yet again hear that Hagenbeck song which sounded so strange 
to our ears. It said that a fairy ship had come to them over the dancing 
waves of the ocean 1 

Ambulatory postcard-sellers now did huge business with circus 
picture postcards. In any toy-shop in Tokyo you could buy a model of 
the Saarland and all its animals, in pasteboard, wood or celluloid. 
There were Hagenbeck kimonos on sale and Hagenbeck scarves, and 
you could get paper sunshades with scenes from our circus. One even 
cleaned one's teeth with Hagenbeck tooth-paste, and as a free tooth- 
brush was customarily included in any hotel room in Japan one could 
truly say that we were on all lips. 

One day, I was looking out of my office wagon when I could not 
believe my eyes. I saw our circus suddenly diminished to Lilliputian 
size. Then I learned that it was a Japanese gentleman with an eye to 
business who had thought that people would find the tea he served 
tasted better in a tent like ours than in an ordinary tea-house. 

We had a five weeks' run at Nagoya, with two performances daily, 
at two and at five, both always sold out to the last seat. In addition, on 
many days we counted no less than twenty-five thousand visitors to the 
menagerie. The giraffes were invariably surrounded by classes of school 
children busily drawing, by photographers and by astonished sight- 

In view of this great success and the most kindly assistance which we 
had been afforded by the Mayor, Mr. Oiwa, I thought I might well 
give a free performance for orphans, just as I had done in other coun- 
tries. The Mayor wrote me a most polite letter of thanks and said he 
would put my friendly offer before the town council. He ended his 



letter as follows: 'All this with unpardonable great quantity of lack of 
formality our epistolary thanks.' 

The following morning our interpreter informed me that there was 
a deputation of city councillors to wait on me. I observed at once that 
they were robed in their ceremonial kimonos, and when after the 
customary long-drawn-out introductions we were at last bent over 
steaming little bowls of tea our interpreter rendered the purpose of 
their call. Wrapping his message in flowery compliments, the spokes- 
man gave me to understand that the position in Japan was that 
orphaned children were always taken into the families of their next of 
kin. This meant that to invite them to a special performance would 
underline the fact that their parents were dead and thereby cause them 
pain. I was therefore begged to withdraw my offer. 

This request of course I fully understood and it was with great 
pleasure that they now accepted my new proposal that the proceeds 
of an average day's performance should be given to the city for 
charitable purposes. 

It was soon after this that we received an invitation to a geisha- 
house. I went, accompanied by my sons and nephew and Richard 
Sawade. The German Ambassador was also present, and he and I had 
the places of honour, large silk screens at our backs, and also beautiful 
paintings of Japanese flora and fauna. There were also costly vases of 
flowers beautifully selected and arranged, to decorate the large room 
in which we all assembled, squatting shoeless on cushions on the floor. 
Beside each one of us knelt a geisha, keeping our rice-wine bowls full. 
Sake, as it is called, is the Japanese national drink. It tastes like warm 
sherry. During the banquet, which; oh wisdom of Nippon, was not 
interrupted by speeches, we were served with a variety of Japanese 
dishes, including bamboo shoots, lotus buds, rice and fish, all served 
in small lacquered bowls or priceless porcelain dishes. At the con- 
clusion the Mayor came round to each of us in turn, sitting down be- 
side us, to drink a bowl of sak6 with us. When some Japanese ladies 
visited us, they found two hours sitting on chairs a strain, and asked 
if they might withdraw for a little while to our dwelling wagons to 
rest, sitting on the floor. Now the tables were turned. Long squatting 
on cushions, with so much doubling up to get at my food, left me 
longing for a good simple chair as a change. 

In our honour, a geisha ballet group had worked out some special 
dances based on scenes from the circus. We were given to understand 
that they mimed our aerial acrobats, our carnivores and our balancing 



seals. To my inexpert eyes the dances were just so much capering 
about. I was as blind to their choreographic beauty as I was deaf to the 
charms of Far Eastern music. As thin as rakes, these black-haired 
damsels strained every fibre of their bodies in their writhings before 
the city fathers, but their faces were complete deadpans. To this day 
I have not been able even to guess what part of our circus they hon- 
oured by a dance in which they held up their big toes pointing to the 

The highlight of this municipal banquet was the ceremonial handing 
over of a precious curtain embroidered with gold dragons. From 
Nagoya on we used it to drape our bandstand, and it was thereafter 
the ornament of our circus, till the day when incendiary bombs sent 
the whole thing up in flames. Handing it to me, the Mayor of Nagoya 
said: 'May this curtain remind many millions of circus audiences in 
Germany and the whole world that Nagoya is the third big city of 

The speech was lengthy, and though in many points it was just like 
those which I have heard on similar occasions in other parts of the 
world, it is perhaps not without interest to recall the useful guidance 
which the head man of Japan's great industrial city saw in our per- 
formances. For Oiwa San had watched all our work, from the dis- 
mantling of the circus at Tokyo to its erection at Nagoya, and what he 
found specially praiseworthy was the celerity, the cheerfulness and the 
precision of the joint effort of men, animals and technical equipment 
which we had organised. He declared that in our circus he had for 
the first time in his life seen such a marvel of concentrated effort. 

No doubt in the original it all sounded more poetic than it did in 
translation to speak of the circus as 'a blossom born of sweat and love,' 
but it is certainly true that work and unconditional concentration are 
the prerequisites of any big enterprise of that sort. After all, even the 
piece about the blossom was true, for with shade temperatures of 
over 100 F. and the sun blazing down on our big top we did produce 
literally rivers of perspiration. Despite the double reed- thatch with 
which Foreman Hayaku had equipped them, our dwelling wagons 
were like ovens. I felt like the chief of an Equatorial African village. 
Richard Sawade had the wall of the circus tent taken down, so that 
audiences should have a little more air, sitting under the enormous 
sunshade of the big top itself. 

It goes without saying that apart from circus business proper, I saw 
quite a lot of Japan, but impressions of that country have, since Marco 

1 66 


Polo, been described by many men more professional at it than I am. 
Besides, today what interests me most anywhere is animal life. The 
golden carp, the wonderful stylised animal sculpture on the roof of 
the Nagoya Castle, the temple with the holy tortoises or the cormor- 
ant fishermen of Gifu all these are today more lively memories than 
all the pagodas, temples and shrines. 

When I visited Gifu, I took both my boys with me. Two Japanese 
fishermen rowed the boat, over the bows of which projected a long 
pole with a basket of fire dangling over the water, the glow of which 
attracted the fish. At a tap, the trained cormorants plunged head first 
into the water and the catch began, according to the old rhyme, 'Big 
'uns in the pot, little 'uns in the crop.'* However, to make sure that 
their feathered fishermen kept to the rule their masters had fitted 
their necks with a restricting iron ring, so that even if they did try to 
swallow a big fish it would not go down, while they were prevented 
from flying away by about thirty feet of thin line attached to their 

* 'Die grossen ins Togfchen, die kleinen ins KrfyfchenS 



UNFORTUNATELY, THIS was to be no simple pleasure voyage for me. I 
very soon had another engagement to arrange. The venue this time 
was a leading hotel, at Koshien, where I invited our Ambassador and 
his secretary, Dr. Knoll, to meet the directors of the Hanshien Railway 
Company and to discuss the feasibility of taking the circus there. But 
to my dismay Koshien turned out to be a long stretch of beach with an 
enormous baseball ground, a bathing establishment, and this one hotel. 

'Where on earth am I going to fill my seats from out here?' I 
demanded, shaking my head in amazement, for not one single dwelling 
house was to be seen. Grinning, the members of the other party to the 
conference unfolded a map. 

'This is where we are,' explained Mr. Nara, who was also the 
representative of a Hamburg exporter and spoke excellent English. 

I saw no reason to dispute this assertion, for he pointed to a point 
on the map where no houses were indicated. 

'You see, Mr. Hagenbeck,' he smiled like any other Japanese 
gentleman 'Koshien lies exactly midway between Kobe and Osaka/ 

This too I did not dispute. 

'We can assure you an audience of twenty thousand for every 
house P 

To cut a long story short, the railway company contrived to bring 
out as many as thirty thousand people every day> to fill our circus and 
give the menagerie a full gate, and they managed all the publicity too. 

The site was two miles away from the railway station at Nishinomia. 
With this it was connected by a new asphalted highway. But as far 
south as this point, the midday sun blazed down at upwards of 1 30 F. f 
so that our orange-blue transport wagons found themselves obliged 
to churn through a sort of black gruel, which quickly gummed up 
caterpillar trucks, wheels and the soles of men and animals. It was 
interesting to observe that, instead of striking across country with the 
animals, our Japanese Boy Scouts plodded bravely on in the train of 
the rolling-stock, till everybody and everything was literally bogged 

It was now a question of cleaning up. The feet of the hooved animals 

1 68 


did not present any serious problem, but it was not at all so easy in the 
case of the elephants, while we found it completely impossible to 
scrape the feet of the camels and llamas clean, for they had a hard com- 
pacted mass of stones and tar filling their cloven hoofs. However, I 
was not going to waste time considering what to do. If there was no 
other suitable grease available, it had to be butter, and not a few 
pounds of that precious substance went on the animals' gummed-up 
feet, which were then well wrapped in bandages. Gradually the butter 
melted out the tar, and after a second good dosing we were through 
that difficulty, if not like greased lightning, at least like greased hooves. 

Meanwhile our publicity scouts had been sent to Kyushu, one of 
the four main islands of Japan. They left behind them an excellent 
and clearly distinguishable trail of posters, and the fresher the paste 
under these the nearer 1 knew we were to our vanguard. Whereas in 
Germany these poster boys always had to fight the opposition of people 
to having posters on their house walls, and we bought our way through 
opposition with free tickets to our shows, here in Japan bill-stickers 
had quite another sort of difficulty. For the people here were most 
enthusiastic about bright exotic pictures of tigers leaping through 
burning hoops, seals standing on their noses, incredible giraffes and 
rhinoceroses and proudly caparisoned riding horses. 

Our biggest placard of all attracted particular attention. It showed a 
clown of giant dimensions with a horn of plenty at his feet, out of 
which as out of a box of toys he was building up the circus. It was in 
fact a free-fantasy illustration of that Japanese popular song about the 
fairy-tale ship bouncing over the sunlit waves out of the Western 
world. Whenever this bill was stuck on a house wall our placard boys 
had to contend not with the occupant or owner of the building but 
with his neighbour, who would besiege them with presents of tea and 
fruits and with ceremonious politeness beg them to put up a lovely 
picture like that on his house too. This was an obstacle the publicity 
boys had never before had to cope with. I found them living in a horn- 
of-plenty world of their own, they and their men enjoying many 
presents, while they bestowed their own bounties like Oriental 

On my wagon trundled, between fields of rice, where the peas- 
ants laboured, bent low over their work, their faces hidden under 
cart-wheel straw hats. Small roadside conveniences were most in- 
viting to the wanderer to pause in. There was no heart carved out of 
the door of these, as there is at home, but the peasants were most 



thankful for all our contributions to their compost heaps. We also saw 
monks with hats like bee-skeps, which covered the whole head, and 
blind beggars with their six-foot white poles, surmounted by bells, 
tramping the highway. At the sound of their bells, all traffic at once 
stopped, everywhere in Japan, for them to be able to cross the road in 

The attitude towards traffic incidents was not quite the same in 
Japan as in Europe. One day, in Tokyo, my car was lightly bumped 
by another. At once, its driver leapt out and was bowing, while 
murmuring words which of course meant nothing to me. But my 
chauffeur asked me to return the compliment, to show, he said, that I 
had forgiven the offender. So I too bowed, and after much bowing and 
excusing the matter was settled. But when we had gone on I could not 
refrain from inquiring what the gentleman would have said if we had 
rammed him so hard that his car was really damaged? 

'Sir,' replied my chauffeur, 'he would have been no less polite to 
you, and would have assured you how inconsolable he was and how 
sorry he was that such an incident should be the inception of an 
acquaintance which afforded him such pleasure. Then, of course, with 
your kind permission, he would have made a note of your registration 
number and expressed a hope that the magistrate would be able to 
elucidate who should foot the bill.' No doubt about it, the Japanese 
are the most courteous people in the world. We all know the glibness 
with which the good Viennese interlard their speech with Bittschon 
the Japanese use their own doso fully as frequently. 

Hakata ! The name of that Japanese city is one which I cannot pos- 
sibly forget, for there we were within a hair's breadth of disaster. I 
was already over in China when it happened, making preparations for 
our Shanghai visit and a tour through other parts of the Far East, so I 
must rely on the account of my sons and assistants, particularly 
Herbert's i4-mm. film record of the event. 

There was a typhoon raging at Shanghai which, so the press in- 
formed us, was moving off eastwards over the Yellow Sea, straight for 
Kyushu, at the very hour when, as I reckoned, our performance was 
just beginning. However, it struck more rapidly than calculated and 
descended on the Fukuoka Peninsula, with its principal city of Hakata, 
where we were at the time, and it was wonderfully good fortune for 



us that this occurred before the gates opened for the afternoon 

Herbert's film showed the tractors clattering up, to drag the heavy 
pantechnicons into position as a windbreak on the windward side of 
the big tent, which was already flapping ominously in the mounting 
wind. The steel covers of the carnivores' cage-wagons were closed, 
the horses set loose. There was Foreman Hayaku waving his stick. 
Then the tent peggers' hammers swung, and one seemed actually to 
hear the blows as at feverish haste they drove in additional irons while 
with blocks and tackle others tightened all guy ropes. 

Higher and higher in the sky piled the menacing black wall of the 
storm, a mountain of cloud, from behind the yellowish battlements of 
which a terrible wind was now roaring. A few instants later, and over 
the flags flapping wildly at the mast-heads there were torn trails of 
cloud. Ropes fastened to our caterpillar tractors, the engines of which 
were working, twanged tight as violin strings. And then it broke, with 
incredible force. 

My son he had been in bed all day with a touch of fever had been 
taking his picture from the window of his wagon. Now he was 
obliged to lie on the floor and hold tight. His wagpn was dancing 
about as if on the high seas. The air was full of the cries of animals and 
the crashing of timbers. Suddenly everything was engulfed in one 
single whirling, howling cloud of dust. 

When at last he could get up again and survey the scene, he took his 
camera and filmed the result. Four thousand square metres of tattered 
canvas were flapping high in the wind. Everything movable had been 
blown away straw, poultry, linen, even the precious dragon curtain 
given us by Nagoya the site was as cleanly swept of movable objects 
as if a giant vacuum cleaner had been over it. It was all scattered far and 
wide over the countryside. Our stabling had been smashed in as if it 
had been a house of cards. The elephants were trumpeting madly to 
get free. The horses, guided by instinct, their manes flying, had stood 
the storm out with their backs to it. The four big steel masts were 
whipping madly to and fro, as the wind caught in the remains of the 
canvas and tore at them. Two plucky tenters who had once been 
sailors shinned up top and slashed away ropes, so that the wind should 
not continue to swell the broken canvas and tear at the anchorages. 

The first voice to ring out over the ruins was Foreman Hayaku 's as 
he rallied his men. Fortunately no one was hurt beyond a few minor 
cuts and scratches, easily dealt with by adhesive plaster. Without 



delay everybody set about clearing away the ruins. In the open, tent 
makers got busy, slashing, patching. The stable tent was the first to be 
restored. An army of helpers, paid and unpaid, joined in, hammering, 
botching, making do hayaku, hayaku. Out came the Boy Scouts of 
Hayaku and the surrounding country and gave volunteer aid. Local folk 
offered quarters for men and animals alike. My sons were busy, 
driving tractors, returning gate money, lending a hand wherever it was 

What was most remarkable was that not a plank, not a single 
clown's wig or horse's feather plume was lost to us, even though car- 
ried a mile away. Anything which in colour or shape looked like 
Hagenbeck was brought in to us by the Japanese. Seeing the extent of 
the disaster, nobody had dared to hope that we should soon get going 
again, but no more than forty-eight hours after the storm all news- 
papers and radio stations of Japan were announcing the news : *Hagen- 
beck's Circus has resumed its performances, playing in the open air.' 

Had we needed any additional boost to our publicity, we certainly 
had it now. The Japanese poured in in their thousands. It was a remark- 
able sight to see that huge amphitheatre so packed with people. Into 
the air thrust the bare tent poles, with all the tackle of the aerial 
acrobats. Down below was some staging, with our band, over it all 
nothing but the cloudless sky of Japan. 

The attendance was now so great that there were people offering 
good yen merely to be allowed standing room, not in the circus area 
proper, but merely inside the fence which surrounded our ground. 
There were clusters of onlookers on the roof of every wagon, on every 
ladder, on the masts, on the stacks of straw, and those who could not 
see a thing still applauded delightedly whenever from the heat- 
shimmering heart of that cauldron of humanity came sounds of 

Sawade telegraphed to me in Shanghai : 'We are going on playing 
now to sold-out houses without any tent.' For five days no less than a 
round ten thousand people a day poured through the gate. In Japan, 
the typhoon catastrophe and our conquest of destruction had become 
a symbol of applied pluck. Nevertheless, performances had to come to 
an end at last. At last, only two days' prolongation was feasible, for 
at Osaka harbour a second Hapag steamer adapted as Noah's Ark was 
already waiting for us. It was the s.s. Duisburg, and on September 29th, 
1933, this ship took our circus from Kotobuki-Cho to Shanghai. 

Leave-taking from our Japanese assistants, from our Boy Scouts and 



from many friends was moving. They would all have liked to go to 
Shanghai too, but because of the political tensions of the moment it 
was out of the question for us to take any Japanese workers with us to 
China. Our departing stars were piled with presents invaluable dolls 
in Japanese costume and other mementoes. Present at the last scene 
were Consul Dr. Rhode, Professor Kanamura of the Kyoto Museum 
and many other prominent persons. There were also the little cash- 
desk geishas whom we were leaving behind, sorrowful little butter- 
flies on the quayside, in their hands long paper ribbons, which still 
bound them symbolically to Circus San who was now to leave them. 
But they did not cry, for it is unworthy for a Japanese girl to show her 
feelings. Instead, they were beaming with smiles. Behind us, as living 
mementoes of our six months' stay on tour of Japan, we were also 
leaving polar bears and those fairy-tale animals the giraffes, for Tokyo's 
Ueno Park Zoo had made sure of those powerful attractions for itself. 
One of those animals indeed was still living when, nineteen years later, 
Mr. Koga, the zoo's director, came to see me at Stellingen to buy yet 
more giraffes. 



AT SHANGHAI my wife joined me, but it is rarely a great satisfaction to 
be married to a circus manager, and instead of showing her this inter- 
national metropolis of China I spent most of my time at the telephone. 
Back in Germany work was going on round the clock to make us a 
new big top, which was to come out to us by air. (At Osaka we had 
made use of a spare tent fifty- two metres in diameter.) 

Press and radio interviews followed one on another, and to show this 
city of four million that despite the recent disaster, which had been 
on everybody's lips, we had lost nothing of our former brilliance or 
size, I wanted to kick off with a big procession. Meanwhile I kept 
sending Heinrich, back at Stellingen, reassuring telegrams, for the 
German press had carried into the remotest village of Germany the 
news that the Hagenbeck Circus had been 'utterly destroyed by a 
typhoon.' On the other hand, in nearly every bulletin Shanghai radio 
was giving details of the position of the Duisburg. 

The press, daily and weekly, had chartered a small hydroplane to 
go out to meet our ark, and when the following morning the Duisburg 
steamed up the river I was ready with the press on the quayside. That 
morning the largest European newspaper in the Far East, the North 
China Daily News, came out with a caricature which made all Shanghai 
laugh. There was at the time a popular play going round the European 
theatres out there. It was entitled Ships That Pass in the Night, and this 
was the title of a cartoon by the popular cartoonist 'Sapajou.' On the 
left one saw our ark arriving full of packed animals up to all sorts of 
larks, while on the right was an outgoing steamer labelled 'Lord 
Marley's Party,' with the lord himself and all his faithful about him 
scowling up at the Duisburg, and holding their hands to their ears to 
shut out the Homeric laughter of the creatures of the ark. The 
point was that Lord Marley had been the leader of an inquiry 
commission which was not exactly friendly to Germany, but in 
the enthusiasm with which Shanghai awaited Hagenbeck' s Circus 
his speeches had been lost, and that was why Lord Marley was 
steaming away 1 



As if to supply the flood, if not before, at least after Hagenbeck's 
ark reached its Ararat, just as the Duisburg berthed the heavens opened 
their watery gates. No umbrella or goloshes could have availed against 
what fell. Together with my reception committee, I was thoroughly 
sluiced down. Speeches, procession and reception were all washed 
away in the cloud-burst which followed. The best our band could do 
was drain the water out of its instruments and slop along in oilskins 
and sou* westers. 

Together with our transport chief and Richard Sawade, 1 drove out 
to the site set apart for us. The windscreen wipers laboured hard. 
Shanghai's riverside front, the Bund, was empty and gleaming with 
water. And here was the Majestic Ground, which we were to have, 
where once the largest hotel of the Far East had stood. Some hours 
previously it had certainly been terra firma, hard as a threshing 
floor. Now one had the impression that all the water of Shanghai 
had been drained there to make such an enormous volume of 

'Is it mud baths or a circus we are to open here?' demanded our 
transport man, and under his gleaming sou'wester I had the distinct 
impression that he leered. I, however, was in no mood for humour. 
'No,' I remember shouting 'a switchback railway!' 'Very well, sir,' 
he returned, 'it shall be ready by tomorrow evening,' and I had to 
laugh, for if anybody could have brought off such a trick, it was that 

Ten hours later, and every man jack of that circus, whatever his 
connection there, was on duty in the role of canal navvy. The whole 
scene, inanimate and animate, was of the same loamy yellow hue. 
Elephants and caterpillar tractors were wallowing in a sea of slime. 
Four hundred loads of cinders and fifty wagons of rice straw had been 
engulfed there, and still our trucks went down to their axles, to be 
laboriously coaxed out by caterpillar tractors working on cord timber 

The atmosphere, in short, was indeed stormy, and the only man to 
maintain his legendary, unshakable calm was Richard Sawade. There 
he was, busily weighing up situations and issuing confident orders. 
But when at last a break came, and our working elephants took 
advantage of it to race trumpeting down into that sea of unrationed 
mud and roll to their heart's delight, laughter returned, and the sun- 
shine soon followed. The asphalt steamed, the pot-holes dried out, 


and in a matter of hours what had been a sea of liquid mud was as hard- 
baked as any farmer's threshing floor. 

As cautiously as if it were his wife's most precious linen, our 
transport man had our new tarpaulin spread out on the rice straw, 
and woe betide any man who threatened to set his muddy hobnails on 
it. We were going to be smart indeed. Between Osaka and Shanghai 
there are a good eight hundred sea miles, and each of these had been 
well utilised by Richard Sawade to get spit and polish back to our 
storm-battered equipment." The very evening our tent arrived our 
circus town was in place, with all its alleys among the wagons, its 
menagerie section freshly washed and curried and combed, all gleam- 
ing under the spider's web of festooned lights. Yes, Hatchimpa, 
as the Chinese insisted on calling us, was ready to receive 

Gates open! clanged the bell from the paddock, and it was at once 
as if a giant sluice had been opened to let in a yellow flood. The masses 
crowded blindly in a sort of panic through the main entrance. Almost 
immediately there were shrill whistles of warning from inside the 
circus tent and cries to halt the human flood. Like sandbags against 
flood waters bursting through a broken dyke, we flung everybody we 
could into the breach stilt-walkers, book-keepers, lavatory atten- 
dants, tamers. The black-uniformed International Police forced a 
way through, tried to stop the human mass, but were swept aside 
like match-boarding. The boxes reserved for the consuls and other 
guests of honour of the various countries were at once occupied by 
people who had only gallery and standing tickets, while the worthy 
Li's and Chi's and all the middle-class mass were in hopeless 

Our ticket attendants did their best to get control. 'Don't push 
there!' 'No rushing in!' 'This way, you numskull. 1 'Do you think a 
half China dollar'll get you straight into the boss's box?' 'Take it 
easy I' 'Steady there, steady!' 'Take it easy!' 'Open your tickets, 

American tars from the cruiser Houston out in the river, a ship-full 
of them, squeezed in, their little white caps standing out sharply 
against the black mandarin caps of the Chinese. The elder Chinese all 
looked like Confucius, with their horn-rimmed spectacles and wispy 
beards. Each one worthier far than the other, they scurried past in 
their green, steel blue or black silk cloaks, with young women in 
tight-fitting silk gowns which corkscrewed up over their knees, and 



A ten-thousaml-hinner is transformed into a Noah's Ark. Loading the 
s.s. Saarland at Hamburg, for Yokohama 

Below: Clownish business under the jpgis of the Pyramids 

1 Hagenbeck's, ' 
the round-the- 
world circus, 
in Japan 

After the 
yphoon at 

continued in 
the open air 


older women with mutilated feet, hobbling, usually resting on the arm 
of a son. 

There were all races confused Japanese, Russians, the whole 
International Settlement, a sprinkling of Indian Sikhs who with their 
carefully brushed side-whiskers always reminded me of German 
'commercial counsellors.' But at last, in surged the guardians of 
public order and wherever the confusion became too great by dint of 
sufficient taps on the head with their bamboo canes they established 
decorum, and our circus settled down, packed like a great round 

That Shanghai first night had been the maddest door-opening of my 
whole circus life, and I was very glad indeed when the band struck up. 
Then the approving whistles of the American sailors shrilled out in 
the general applause, and Europe's circus art filled America and Asia 
at once with enthusiasm. 

In the first interval, one of my old hands came quietly up to me. . 
'What be I to do with all thicky clogs outside?' he asked in his dialect. 

'Clogs?' I asked. 'What clogs?' 

He took me outside. I could hardly believe my eyes. The entrance 
was littered with literally thousands of them, lost by the Chinese 
when they stormed the entrance. One of our doorkeepers found the 
solution, and the clogs were strung on ropes, so that when they came 
out people could go along the line and pick what belonged to 

The next day there was the devil to pay, for when evening came 
there was a still bigger crowd besieging the ground. The circus would 
certainly not be able to hold half of them. But cautious Richard 
Sawade had his plans ready. He brought up his elephants outside, and 
posted them on either side of the entrance. 'They won't let anybody 
tread on their corns !' cried our good manager with great enthusiasm. 
The evening before he had suffered. A fine pair of patent-leather boots 
had been ruined by hundreds of clogged feet treading on them ! Now 
our stalwart Sikhs lined up with the elephants on either side, and there 
was a little more order in it all. Nevertheless, once again it was not 
long before from inside came whistles for help. The seating attendants 
were at their wits' ends. The Chinese were just packing them- 
selves in like books on shelves. Moreover, every man sitting down 
held his knees firmly out, to make sure he kept his allotted 

Very soon it was discovered what was wrong. Holding two tickets 


12 AML 


up to the light, one found that the serial numbers on some were 
blacker than those of others. There were forged tickets going round! Like 
vultures the criminal police pounced on the ticket offices. They soon 
traced the forged tickets to No. 3. There was a simultaneous attack 
from the back and front door of that office and the cheating attendant 
got a merciless drubbing. All ticket sales had been taken on by a big 
Chinese concern, and when they found that there had been cheating 
outraged Chinese beat up the tricksters thoroughly. The forgers got a 
second drubbing from the police, and a third from the Hatchimpa 
doorkeepers. Shanghai proved a hot shop ! 

When our chief cashier made his daily trip to the bank with a valise 
full of Chinese dollars he carried his valuable burden in a British 
policeman's sidecar, with police motor-cyclists all round him, sub- 
machine-guns slung round their necks ready. Shanghai could also be a 
dangerous shop ! 

There were often noteworthy local celebrities to be seen at our 
shows, men whom British secret police officers would point out to us. 
'See that stout little fellow with the Chinese wife, yes, that one with 
all the make-up, well, he's one we knew when he could not even 
afford a ride in a ricksha, but look at him now!' But then, life is like 
that, not only in the Far East. 

One day, however, a regular troop of cars rolled up, and a well- 
fleshed Chinese emerged from a limousine with bullet-proof glass as 
thick as the ice on a skating rink, and round him a bodyguard of 
twenty other Chinese, their eyes as wary as rats' all round. 'Mr. 
Wong,' whispered our police friend. Mr. Wong, it seems, had re- 
served twenty-one box seats, for it was only if he could be entirely 
surrounded by his bodyguard that he thought he might be able to see 
the circus in peace. He was one of the richest men in Shanghai, with 
the influence of a Rockefeller. He had piled up millions, not on oil, 
but opium. 

The show began. The sea-lions did their stuff. Their motor-horn 
'piano* was brought on. Heavens, what have I not heard on that instru- 
ment. In the Rhineland it was 'The Faithful Hussar,' in Berlin 'Did 
you then think . . .', in the Argentine 'La Cucaracha,' in Norway 
'Lala Sunio* what now would it be in China? Of course, that most 
popular of tunes, 'All the birds are already there,' played alike at 
festivities and funerals, a German music-hall hit. How on earth that 
ditty ever got out to the Far East and above all became so beloved by 
the Chinese nobody could tell me. 



About our performance, Mr. Wong was most enthusiastic. At 
Aage, our Norwegian clown, he laughed till he cried. Aage could 
manage his side-splitting entrance patter in a confusion of seven 
languages, and that fell on fruitful soil in that Far Eastern crucible of 
peoples, Shanghai. It was just after his entrance that the incident of 
the funny chair took place. 

Everybody surely knows this old circus trick, as old as the hills, but 
a perennial favourite. Three men laboriously achieve an acrobatic 
pyramid on a chair, but this suddenly collapses under them, the chair's 
breaking being underlined by the ear-splitting detonation of a specially 
planted cracker. 

As I say, this was a very old circus turn but not for Mr. Wong's 
bodyguard. The moment there was that apparent detonation of the 
breaking chair from twelve coat pockets flashed twelve revolvers. 
Our poor clowns had least of all expected that response, and it was a 
good thing their alarm could not show through their heavy m^ke-up. 
Meanwhile, Mr. Wong had dived for cover behind the matchboarding 
of his box. Then up he bobbed again, very busily wiping his opera 
glasses, as if he had merely bent down to pick them up ! 

Now a wave of laughter ran all round the great circus ring, while 
wispy-bearded Chinese dignitaries turned the other way, pretending 
not to have seen something so unseemly. But Mr. Wong gleamed like a 
kindly Buddha. Shortly before the end of the show he suddenly slipped 
out, though he was courteous enough not to leave without expressing 
to me his personal thanks for such a well-spent evening and asking us 
all to *a melancholy cup of tea* under his * unworthy roof.' 

Let me say at once that this 'unworthy roof was the private city 
which the Opium King had had built outside the Shanghai city gates. 
According to what the British police told me, the story of his rise to 
wealth was worth a whole library of thrillers. Now all that was be- 
hind him, and at the top of his ladder he even looked virtuous. 
Against any possible shades from the past, he had had his private city 
built round with a high wall, from which trigger-easy guards loyally 
kept watch on all who approached. 

We drove out from Shanghai in twenty taxis as far as these could go, 
then we took rickshas, after which we went on foot through the 
loveliest Chinese park I have ever seen, with ornamental bridges, 
miniature trees, cast-iron lions, by winding alleys, past lovely little 
pools with goldfish and ornamental tortoises. 



We were received on the terrace by Mr. Wong. He had now for- 
gotten the five languages he spoke fluently in Shanghai, Arrayed in 
costly dragon-patterned black silk, with family crest on breast and 
back in silver, he greeted us in Chinese and left it to interpreters to 
translate his words to the host of guests who were gaping in amazement 
at the magnificence of his unworthy home. There were hanging vases 
like storks' nests and carved and contorted haghes against the walls. 
Silver and gold cups, tea-caddies, smoking- tables, richly ornamented 
stools of ivory, costly bronzes, cats of porcelain, cats of gold, cobras 
of silver, silver lamps, smokers* outfits and vases of joss sticks were 
everywhere. Then the sonorous sounds of a gong called us to the 
'melancholy cup of tea,' and we found that Mr. Wong had had a 
separate palace built for every purpose one for eating, one for sleep- 
ing, one for bathing, one for 'tea-drinking.' He had his own cinema 
and his own theatre and, for the life of the spirit, his own temple 
with red lacquer altars and a life-size alabaster statue of the 

I still recall the fourteen kitchen-houses, the seven dwelling houses 
of his wives, his children, his ancestors, the men of his bodyguard, 
not to speak of the quarters for his priests, his officers, his servants. 
The higher outer wall with its glazed tiles enclosed an estate larger 
than the Stellingen Animal Park.* 

Now we were no longer to be surprised when we discovered that 
behind the 'cup of melancholy tea* was concealed a repast of precisely 
forty- five courses, served at numerous small low-pitched tables, each 
with six small stools round it. First, as hors-d'ceuvre, came ham, 
mushrooms, goose liver, titbits of roast fowl, with soya sauce, toasted 
almonds, and sunflower seeds. Then there were soups of mushrooms, 
of fish and of eggs. Next came stuffed boned pike, stewed swallow- 
nests, roast duck, roast fowl, the meat all cut into tiny pieces, so that 
one only needed two chopsticks to take it from one's plate. With 
these foods came a variety of dainties in little dishes-^-caviare, shark's 
fins, sliced and seasoned Chinese radish and bamboo shoots, and finally 
sucking-pig 1 In rustled the servants, scarce audible, and then be- 
tween a double row of them came ten cooks, each with a roast 
sucking-pig on a silver dish, complete with wonderful garnishing. 
Each cook carried his pig to a table, and when the guests there had 
luxuriated sufficiently in the aroma of it all, he vanished again, to 
return a few moments later with it all sliced and cut up small. There 
* Over seventy-five acres. Translator. 

1 80 


were hot puddings and cold sweet cakes of many kinds, with black 
coffee and brandy to round off this gluttonous Chinese dinner. Of 
course, during the meal itself nothing but champagne was served. 

Understandably, after such a filling we found no great difficulty in 
following the ancient custom of the country and expressing our 
appreciation and praise of his cooks to our host by loud 

* Mr. Wong's wives did not take any part in the banquet. On the 
other hand, some of the womenfolk of our company had already had 
the opportunity of meeting them in a tea-house. Our equestrienne in 
particular told me that she had taken tea with the kdies and smoked 
a pipe of opium, or, rather, tried to, for the thing, she said, just would 
not burn, for smoking opium is an art which requires considerable 
know-how. There was, she said, little conversation, as these Chinese 
women knew no foreign languages. They fanned themselves, smiled 
most graciously and on their forefingers all wore diamonds as large as 
hazel nuts. 

After the great meal, Mr. Wong's actors made great efforts to 
show their European colleagues Chinese vaiihi on their open-air 
stage. As my present to Mr. Wong I had sent two rare white humped- 
back swans. He returned the compliment with a goose, the Cygnopsis 
ygnoides, which in Chinese belief is the primordial goose from which 
all other geese have been bred. 

I was happy to have such good relations with the Shanghai police, 
for we needed them nearly every day for going to the bank, and some- 
times for other reasons. For instance, one day a guanaco vanished. At 
about six one morning a man came to the 'exotic animals' ' stables, 
made out that he was a veterinary surgeon, and intimated that he had 
come to take away 'the sick guanaco.' The police radio came into 
action (all police cars in Shanghai already had radio receivers at this 
time), the net was at once cast wide, and the creature was found on 
the seventh floor of a skyscraper on the counter of a bar I A dead- 
drunk American had been trying in vain to get whisky into it. When 
our people arrived, the animal was still on the counter, but the culprit 
was senseless on the floor nearby. It must have been a mere prank, 
but there was one good side to it it made a wonderful story for the 
Shanghai press, which meant five Chinese, four English, three Japan- 
ese, two Russian, one French and one German newspaper, all of 
which spread the tale that our guanaco had made the thief faint by 
suddenly dancing the Charleston on the counter 1 



The guanaco was not the only animal we had brought away from 
Japan with us. We also had a Korean leopard, some giant Kamschatkan 
bears, valuable cranes and, among other things, the 'maidenhair 
tortoise,' which is in point of fact merely a tortoise with a seaweed 
growth on its shell, a strange example of parasitism. 



FOR A run of sixty nights the sky above the Majestic Ground glowed 
red with the flood of light from our circus town. But long before this 
time was up I had packed my bags and moved on. The s.s. Tjibadak 
took my wife and me via Manila to Java, my original plan being after 
China to take our circus on tour through the Straits Settlements and 
Dutch East Indies to Australia. But whereas the financial authorities 
of Japan and Shanghai had both nobly taken account of our huge costs 
and refrained from taxing the circus, the Dutch colonial government, 
on the other hand, without a blush demanded a twenty-five per cent, 
entertainment tax. I had not had to pay their counterparts back in 
Amsterdam even a half of that amount. 

'But it's the public that will pay the tax,' argued the finance boss 
of Batavia. 

'Granted/ I said, 'but it's you who are going to pocket it. Perhaps 
you would explain where the money is coming from to pay our freight 
costs to Australia?' 

For these reasons our proposed tour through the Dutch East Indies 
never materialised, and thereby, because of the long sea voyage, the 
visit to Australia also fell through. The very next day after this de- 
cision, what the Java-Bode press had nicknamed the 'breathless 
globe-trotter' sailed on the s.s. Johan van Oldenbarneveh for Singapore, 
Colombo and Calcutta. On the voyage, the ship's photographer de- 
veloped the films I had turned. While in Japan I had visited various 
zoos, and of course I had also gone to see whatever Manila and Java 
could show me. But it was particularly in the small Japanese zoos, 
which I had been advised to miss (because 'they have nothing to 
show') that I came upon many a zoological rarity, especially in the 
worlds of birds, reptiles and fishes. Of all of these the Japanese are 
masterly breeders, and in their country I was able to make many an 
interesting purchase or exchange. 

While at Shanghai I had heard that the Chinese province of Kwangsi 
possessed a special variety of pheasant. So I sent the aviator Hannes 
Rathje in search of this. (This was of course the Hannes Rathje who 
made his name by his long-distance flight from Berlin to Peking. 



Today he counts as the oldest pilot of the new German Lufthansa, and 
a well-known 'aerial millionaire 1 who piled up thousands of air miles 
in the Far East.) At last, about eleven hundred miles from Shanghai, 
in Szechwan, he acquired for me four of these marvellous blue-eared 
pheasants and also a specimen of the rare crop-gazelle. 

During this voyage to India I was also able at leisure to run through 
the films I had turned at Manila and Weltevreden. Of the greatest 
interest to me was an elephant I photographed at Manila. Through an 
accident the animal was minus the tip of its trunk. What is more, this 
was slit at the end for about a span on either side. I am afraid I was 
unable to find out or the owners were unwilling to tell me how this 
mutilation came about, but what was most interesting was to observe 
that the accident had not prevented the elephant from using its trunk, 
for I saw and the cameras recorded how neatly he slipped bananas 
into that slit and conveyed them to his mouth, a fascinating piece of 
evidence of the extraordinary adaptability of this 'hand on the head,' 
which is said to contain between twenty-five thousand to thirty 
thousand separate muscles. 

While the Johan van Oldenbarneveh called at Colombo, we visited 
my Uncle John, and during an excursion to Kandy we had a very 
amusing experience. When the mahouts saw his familiar face and 
heard what visitors he had brought out, they put their elephants 
through a number of tricks. The tricks were the same as those per- 
formed in our circus. Among the elephant-riders of Ceylon were now 
men who had learned their job under us at Stellingen ! They had also 
essayed their training skill on some monkeys, and at a word of com- 
mand these clambered at lightning speed up coconut palms, picking 
the fruit and throwing it down to us. The milk of coconuts fresh from 
the tree like that is a wonderful form of refreshment. 

At the Consulate- General at Calcutta a regular pile of letters and 
telegrams awaited us. The management of the Grand Hotel found me 
an Indian girl secretary, a clever young Parsee, who besides the 
language of Zarathustra knew shorthand and typewriting excellently. 
In no time my room was transformed into a circus office, from which, 
carried by our billposting team, the word went out to all India. 

The circus at the moment was somewhere in the Straits of Malacca. 
Captain Engell and the officers of the Saarland had first been able to 
see our performances only at Shanghai, for immediately their ship had 
discharged us at Yokohama she was ordered back to Hamburg. On her 
second journey out, in addition to Christmas mail and many presents, 



she brought our sea-lions refrigerators-full of much-longed-for fish, 
fresh from the Altona fish market. 

After three weeks' voyage our original Noah's Ark thus brought the 
circus up the Ganges, and when we gave our first Indian performance 
all that stood for anything in Calcutta by name or rank was present. 
Among the audience was to be seen Lady Willingdon, wife of the 
British Viceroy. But most heads in the audience were turbaned. Our 
seating attendants were many a time driven to despair; there were so 
many cases of people who would not sit next to, or immediately under, 
or immediately above certain others, even though they might have 
paid the same price to get in each considered the other to be un- 
clean. For India's castes were still strictly observed, even determining 
where one should sit at a circus show. 

During the interval I took my British guests to see the menagerie. 
The harness hanging down the gangways past the stables was gleaming 
bright, and there was clean straw in all the boxes. When a certain 
cavalry general spotted the cleanings of the curry combs always 
looked at by the officer in charge of Army stables to see how well the 
horses have been cleaned down he cried enthusiastically: 'I shall 
send some of my dragoons round here tomorrow to learn the real 
meaning of cleanliness and speed I ' 

At the same time, he invited me to a military tattoo to be held the 
very next evening, and there I saw the British cavalry show their skill, 
indeed an impressive spectacle, well carried through to the strains of 
a military band. Lit by a blazing square of torches, it was well cal- 
culated to excite the marvel of all present. 

Here at Calcutta we were to give the rarest circus performance 
that ever took place under our big top. It was like this : one day an 
imposing Indian gentleman presented himself at our box office and 
politely inquired how much he would have to pay for the whole 

'I beg your pardon,' said the man at the desk, thinking he had not 
heard aright. But the Indian repeated his question. Yes, he wanted all 
the seats, at once, he said, and he drew out his cheque book. Whether 
he was a millionaire, or just potty, was not clear to our box office 
attendant, so he beckoned to a porter and had the inquirer taken 
round to see me. 

The inquirer introduced himself. He was the private secretary of 
the Maharaja of Patiala, and yes, he repeated, he did wish to hire the 
whole seating for one show, and making out a cheque for the total 


sum he handed it across my desk, requiring of me an assurance that 
the whole programme would be shown, with no cuts, to one party 
only: his employer the Maharaja and the Maharaja's party. 

'Very well, sir, it shall be done,' we said, and decided on the day. 
Only then I discovered that there were one or two little arrangements 
still to be made. For the ladies of the harem were in strict purdah, 
as the Indians call it, and there could be no relaxation of the rigid 
rule by which no male eye should see them. To safeguard this neces- 
sitated a little preparation, and we watched the private secretary 
make a tour of inspection of the whole tent. He paced out distances 
and jotted them down. He also measured the width and depth of the 
various boxes and gangways. He even climbed up to the gods and 
peered down. Then he grovelled on the floor, to peep under the edge 
of the side flaps of the wall of the tent. What he discovered there I 
do not know, but he certainly jotted it all down. One might have 
thought he intended to do our transport superintendent out of a job 
and put up the tent himself at our next town. 

The day of the special performance came round, and suddenly 
up rolled a big lorry, and twenty turbaned Indians unloaded red- 
painted iron posts and drove them into the ground while others 
carried muslin-stretched wooden frames into the tent. When they 
had finished their operations, a section of the boxes had been com- 
pletely screened off, and from this walled-off section led a completely 
closed-in corridor. This was rather like the covered gangway used to 
bring lions and tigers to their central cage and led all the way to the 
entrance to our circus enclosure. 

The next step was the introduction of the bodyguard seventy 
Indian colossi from the mountains of Bengal, in colourful uniforms, 
took up positions at all exits and on all stairs. They stood as stiffly as 
tin soldiers, their arms crossed over their breasts. Then came fourteen 
heavily silvered Rolls-Royce limousines, all with their blinds fully 
drawn. Beside the driver of each sat a regular Goliath of a Sikh. 
These, their faces well averted in turn, raised the flap of the muslin 
tunnel, for the unseeable beauties to scurry into the circus. 

The Maharaja himself offered the diametrical opposite of all this 
Indian ceremonial, for he turned up in a bright grey double-breasted 
suit of the latest cut and a well-turned Oxford accent, all transported 
in a silver-grey German Maybach sports car matching his suit. With 
lively chatter, he accompanied me inside, A nod, and the bandmaster 
raised his baton. We began. 

1 86 


The Maharaja was most enthusiastic and clapped heartily, though 
the sound echoed rather hollow and ghostly from the four thousand, 
nine hundred and seventy empty seats. Out of the draped boxes of the 
purdah ladies came not a sound. My august guest kept up a fire of 
questions about all that interested him. In came our clowns, sweating 
with anxiety. For how can one make jokes in the ring without any 
applause? It was as hard as telling a deaf and dumb man a joke. For this 
reason the boys had had resort to the time-honoured recipe of the 
water entry. In their version, it consisted of a clown, two dumb 
Augusts, twenty- three tubs of water and an apparently touchy master 
of the horse, over whose frock-coat the missing twenty-fourth tub of 
water is spilled. This act had raised salvoes of laughter from Oslo to 
Rio de Janeiro, for the most carefree delight in the world is malicious 
delight, particularly when it results from seeing a whole tub of water 
poured over the head of a bad-tempered gentleman. Thrice the 
Maharaja wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes, for thrice this 
watery battle with the malice of things had to be repeated, and every 
time there came silvery peals of laughter from the invisible memsahib 
in her muslin cage. 

Now came our own little pleasure. Of everything had that most 
circumspect private secretary thought, except the trapeze. He had 
not gone up on that to spy out what he could see from there, so our 
heroes of the air did at least get a fleeting glimpse of the unveiled 
beauties. Fortunately for us, their august lord and master never 
realised what sacrilege was being committed above his turban. 

However, what caused the real sensation was Rudolf Matthies' 
Royal Tigers. Every year thousands of Indians fall victims to the lord of 
the jungle. Whenever one of these man-eaters reduces a district to 
terror and anxiety, heavy rewards are offered to anyone who can kill 
the beast. But now the Maharaja and his family saw a slender young 
man in snow-white tropical frock-coat surrounded by fourteen 
magnificent tigers in the central cage, and the animals obeyed his 
every word, leapt through flaming hoops and posed in tiers for him as 
if really anxious to have their photographs taken. The ladies had never 
seen anything so impressive, and in order to get a better view of that 
charming young man from Hamburg, they actually tore quite large 
peep-holes in their harem curtains, so that when with profound bows 
our brave Rudolf responded to the final applause he really did not 
know whether those were fiery diamonds flashing at him from the 
muslin wall or the bright eyes of the purdah ladies. 



Shortly after this, as the guest of the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj, I 
took part in an elephant-catching expedition. The animals were not 
caught by trapping in pits, a method which years before had been 
practised by our animal catcher Walther Ebert in Sumatra, nor was it 
the capture of single young elephants, in East African style. The whole 
thing would be far better described as a big social event, in which 
Indian princes, high government officials and other guests took part. 
It cost the hosts a fortune. For months in advance roads had been cut 
through the untamed forest, so that the guests might be able to drive 
or ride in their elephant howdahs in comfort to the bungalows 
specially built for them near the hunting ground, for the Maharaja 
provided a comfortable little bamboo house for each guest and his 
many servants. 

In splendid tents, spread with the choicest rugs and animal skins, 
servants served a range of dishes which the Waldorf-Astoria could not 
have surpassed in richness or variety, and whether one's whim was for 
White Horse whisky, a vintage claret or a Rhine wine, the white- 
clad waiters were ready to supply it. I was particularly struck by the 
huge entrance gateway to this princely camping site, for this was made 
exclusively of the tusks with which tremendous Indian bull elephants 
had once cleared their path through the jungle. I measured the biggest 
of these, and found it to be seven feet five inches long. At its root, the 
circumference was sixteen and a half inches. The longest tusk ever 
known in India was only fourteen inches longer than this one. 

However, the African elephant has far larger tusks, and it is for this 
reason that in circuses and zoos people so often ask why it is that we 
'saw off the elephants' tusks.' Though there is nothing new in it for 
the specialist, I think I should once again give the answer. This is that 
in all the circus rings of the whole world it is principally Indian cow 
elephants which perform, and these have no tusks naturally, merely a 
small protuberance which is only visible when the animal raises its 
trunk. On the other hand, the African cow elephant has tusks rang- 
ing in the main from eleven to thirty-three pounds in weight, while 
the African bulls have tusks of up to at least two hundred pounds each. 
But the greater weights are now rare, which is why the tusk weighing 
about one hundred and fifty pounds which the British Colonial Service 
officers sent the Prince of Wales as a wedding present was regarded as 
outstanding. But when it comes to tusks like those which in 1878 
C. G. Schillings photographed in Zanzibar ivory market, I envy any- 
body who may have the opportunity of seeing such tuskers at liberty. 



For in the course of the last century these largest of all animals have 
been nearly wiped off the face of the earth, just because civilised 
mankind thinks billiards would not be billiards if not played with balls 
made from their tusks. The lack of tusks in the Indian elephant is one 
of the principal reasons why this has not been destroyed to anything 
like the same extent as the African species. 

Now we are talking of elephants, I shall also give the answer to an- 
other oft-repeated question the one about the legendary * elephant 
cemeteries.' This report, if we can thus describe pure fantasy, is a 
perennial one in the press, but seems so astonishing that one wonders 
why the people who tell it have never taken pick and shovel themselves, 
for they might well have come back from Africa as ivory millionaires. 
For, according to what they all tell us, the elephant is an animal which, 
in obedience to an instinctive drive, when he feels his end is nigh 
follows a given path which leads him to the 'well-known* elephant 
graveyard, to which all old or mortally ill elephants have 'always* gone 
to end their lives. The cemetery attendants are vultures, and at the 
end only the ivory is left! This ivory elephant tusks piles up 
gradually, to form stores of treasures only awaiting the man to take it 

As far as my own research has shown, the truth would be on the 
following lines. Elephants, as far as I have been able to judge by my 
specimens at Stellingen, live just about as long as men, and exception- 
ally reach an age corresponding to that of a very old man. In their 
declining years, most of them suffer from a progressive weakening of 
the trunk. This is critical for them, for they eventually reach the stage 
of being unable to lift their food to their mouths, and can only swing 
it in. By this time drinking becomes a trying business, for, as every- 
body knows, elephants drink by first sucking water into their trunks, 
then squirting it into their mouths. Thus, to conquer their thirst, 
ageing elephants are at last reduced to drinking as they did as mere 
sucklings, when they tucked their little trunks back and drew their 
milk from their mother's dugs straight into the mouth. But to be able 
to suck water straight into their mouths like that they have to wade 
deep enough into a lake, and our animal catchers have told me that 
they have often seen old elephants doing this in Lake Chad.. But 
eventually the day comes when the aged creature, weak, perhaps 
mortally ailing or wounded, suddenly no longer has the strength to 
get out of the water again. The river or the swamp or the lake becomes 
its grave. The many carrion-eaters which exist on land, in the air and 



in the water then take over. And the tusks? These are left in the mud 
of the bottom. Perhaps when the waters are in flood they are swept 
away elsewhere, but I am quite ready to believe that in the neighbour- 
hood of elephants' watering-places numbers of tusks have been found 
together. But there is in this no question of 'elephant cemeteries.' 

But let us return to our muttons, or, rather, to our Indian ele- 
phants those we were to catch. Eventually some three thousand 
beaters appeared on the scene, and with torches and home-made 
grenades these men drove a herd of wild elephants into a corral. 
Meanwhile, as if at the races, we sat on comfortable tiered ranks of 
seats and watched the doings, while skilled mahouts aided by working 
elephants proceeded to catch, chain and tether those wild cousins. 

I kept my cine camera ready all the time, and was able to capture 
the moment when a magnificent bull used all the might of his twenty 
summers against the portcullis closing behind him. He caught that 
two-and-a-half- ton timber gate and raised it on his tusks. While it 
was still poised crooked, he then thrust himself out under it with an 
agility which most people would never have thought so ponderous a 
monster could achieve, though one who had often seen a seven- ton 
elephant nimbly duck under a low courtyard gateway would not have 
found it so surprising. (I should record that three days later that 
escapee was caught again.) 

To tether a newly captured elephant India has evolved a very simple 
device. A way out of the corral led into a sort of sluice, and into this 
the working elephants shouldered and pressed their untamed com- 
rade on whom the portcullis had closed. So there he was, in the nar- 
row space of those walls, which, however, except for the corner 
posts, did not reach the ground. Through the available space it was 
not difficult for the mahouts to get chains on the elephant's legs with- 
out being trampled underfoot. 

Once reconciled to its fate, the elephant soon eats the food thrown 
to it, though it is still for a time dangerous to go near, as, for instance, 
when watering it. But here too India has worked out a surprisingly 
simple solution. They had hollowed out a tree-trunk with fire and this 
was thrust into the animal's quarters, to provide a simple and quite 
safe way of watering him without getting within reach of his dangerous 

There was one Maharaja with whom I concluded a fine exchange 
at his suggestion. India has many elephants, but no German police 
dogs, so I exchanged one of these for an elephant. At that time more 



than one Maharaja had his zoo, and all of them showed great interest 
in our menagerie. I still remember clearly a visit paid me by the 
Princes of Baroda and Talcher. One of them bought giraffes from us. I 
was paid in elephants, which I took back to Germany when the circus 

When, a few years ago, the social-political position in India re- 
duced the power and the revenues of the maharajas, we received a 
letter from India informing us that, obliged to get rid of his elephant 
stables, the writer offered us ten good tuskers (i.e. bull elephants), 
trained and * road-safe.' Unfortunately, it was 1947, and we had 
neither shipping facilities nor foreign currency to be able to acquire 
the elephants of the dethroned maharaja. 

I cannot take leave of Calcutta without thinking of three incidents : 
Christmas in the ring, the visit of the crew of the German cruiser 
Karlsruhe, and the earthquake. 

Never before had I seen quite so sweaty a Santa Claus as the one who 
under the heat of arc lights dealt out the mountains of mail from home 
and our presents to one hundred and twenty circus folk. Rarely either 
have I seen such enthusiastic seamen as those men of the Karlsruhe, 
for whom this meeting with us was a really joyous event. And though 
in the first few moments I took that earthquake for a practical joke, 
I shall certainly never forget it. It caught me by surprise in the throes 
of dictating my daily mail. Suddenly my office wagon began to rock, 
and, being convinced that it was some of our folk at their tricks, I 
tore the curtain back and had some rather pungent things to say. 
Then, to my dismay, I suddenly saw the whole circus quiver like a 
big mould jelly. Water slopped out of the sea-lions' tanks, and there 
was the sound of shattering glass. The afternoon papers told us that it 
had been only the outer waves of a big earthquake, which at the centre 
destroyed twenty thousand houses, and just touched Calcutta. 

At last, one morning, our circus trains started on a five-day tour 
through India. From Calcutta we went to Bombay, a first leap of 
one thousand eight hundred and forty miles. Journalists have often 
asked me if it would not have been easier to have chartered the 
Saarland for our whole world tour. The answer is that it certainly 
would have been, had we not had to pay peppery-hot harbour dues 
for every hour the ship was not in motion, merely in dock. To that 
would have been added the maintenance costs of a ten-thousand-ton 
ship, not to speak of keeping its crew all the time. 

My wife and I had travelled on to Bombay in advance of our circus. 



I had had the circus ground cleaned up and disinfected. There was a 
Danish caterer at Bombay who prepared a reception lunch for the 
whole of our company. He made mutton and cabbage cooked in 
German fashion the piece de resistance, and the Indians were most 
astonished that I myself the sahib of it all should sit down with my 
'underlings' and join in with them with great appetite. In India such 
behaviour was incomprehensible. There were, of course, many things 
that never caused an Indian the least surprise which our folk found 
very puzzling, but there were certainly at the same time many things 
which we would have thought should occasion no surprise whatsoever 
in India yet which the Indians who came to our shows found most 

1 Sahib, please, tell me, how can any man be so strong as to let a 
whole elephant lie on him without crushing him?' 

This referred to a turn which our elephant tamer put on. In this 
item the trick was one totally devoid of danger. It was based quite 
simply on the shape of an elephant. Owing to the conformation of its 
bulky body, a man lying down close to one of the front legs which an 
elephant stretches out when it lies down automatically has just 
enough room to lie there without being in the least squeezed. It is of 
course a trick turn and nothing more a trick calculated to deceive 
people who do not know elephants. But surely, we thought, that 
should not have surprised Indians, who see elephants from infancy? 

The fact is, in Germany one is inclined to imagine that every 
Indian is in some measure an elephant expert. In reality, a Bombay 
shopkeeper knows just as little about elephants as a Hamburg ship's 
chandler knows about pedigree Holstein cows. There was another 
prize question which was put to me in Bombay which could have been 
as well answered at Leipzig or Pirmasens. This was : What sort of rare 
animals were those which swam like fish but barked like dogs? These, 
of course, were our acrobatic sea-lions, which, alas, always have the 
misfortune of being confused with seals by the layman. 


The Royal Tiger's incisors arc ra/.or-sharp 

Tiger trainer Rudolf Matthies at work. The tiger in this picture 
is leaping through an eighteen-inch hoop 


AT BOMBAY the circus had a full two months 1 run. Then it had to be 
goodbye to India. I had sent our carpenters and fitters on to Colombo, 
where they constructed the stabling quarters we needed in the s.s. 
Kanak, which was to take the circus on to Egypt. When however the 
Kanak arrived to take Hagenbeck's on board, I had already gone on 
ahead, with my two managers, but since the excitements of a voyage 
on a passenger steamer certainly cannot measure up to those of a 
Noah's Ark circus, I had perhaps better relate some hearsay, not about 
feeding the animals or training the performers, who of course erected 
their trapezes and horizontal bars on deck for daily training and prac- 
tice, but about their pranks. For when such an international assembly 
of clowns, snake-charmers and animal tamers are condemned to the 
dolcefar nicntc of a voyage there is no holding them down. 

Rudolf Matthies had a magnificent tiger, which he had himself 
reared on the bottle, and this animal used to follow him about on the 
lead like a dog. One day, in the Indian Ocean, Rudolf was taking his 
little afternoon constitutional on the promenade deck when through 
the window of a deck cabin came a great din and clatter of glasses. By 
the sounds of it, the party was getting a little out of hand. So Matthies 
let out his big pussy's lead a little, and like any other inquisitive cat 
Shango, as he was called, reared on his hind legs, resting his paws on 
the sill and poked his massive head inside. In an instant there was a 
deathly silence inside and the noisiest of the company was as still as a 
mouse. When at last the spook vanished again and it gradually dawned 
on the bedimmed brains what it had been, they probably tasted their 
drink better again. 

Late one night Martell, still in charge of our poster brigade, thought 
he would have one last dive in the swimming bath rigged on deck, but 
unfortunately overlooked that at night the bo'sun always drained this. 
The result was a head-first crash on the canvas-covered floor of the 
pool, in which there was by then only a foot of water left. Martell's 
companions of the bottle rushed in horror to his assistance. But he 
was already on his feet. With a grand flourish he drew out his pocket 
watch on its famous elastic chain, glanced quizzingly at it, and as if 




quite unconcerned, despite the swelling visibly rising on his fore- 
head, cried: 'Good night, gentlemen, good night, it has just turned 
seventeen minutes past two.' 

At the entrance to the Suez Canal the ship found a gathering of 
Japanese, Norwegian and Dutch ships, all waiting for their passage 
permits. Men-of-war had priority, after them came mail packets. As 
we found waiting tedious we had rejoined the Kanak we had our- 
selves set ashore, and by a five-hour motor-car journey through the 
desert reached the Egyptian frontier post, where a green-uniformed 
soldier from the Sudan distinguishing mark, three deep scars 
diagonally across a black ebony face ran through our pockets in 
search of drugs. Capsules of hashish had already been found by the 
keen desert police even in the stomachs of dromedary caravans, com- 
ing in from the desert and serving as smuggling vehicles for the pro- 
hibited drug. 

From the sand-covered frontier zone we had a good view, looking 
down on the glittering broad ribbon of the Nile. Far ahead, out of the 
lush green of the Nile Delta, the pointing fingers of the mosque 
minarets thrust from the flood of houses into the blue skies it was 
Cairo. The rough desert road here changed to smooth asphalt, border- 
ed by out-of-town villas and gardens, thicker and thicker as we drew 
near to the principal city of Egypt. 

The red fez with its black tassel the so-called tarboosh dominat- 
ed the appearance of the streets. It was more than a form of headgear, 
it had become a national symbol. At the very first cup of black coffee, 
we found ourselves deep in political talk. A young member of the 
'Piastre Movement/ which was strong at the time, told us that the 
money they collected in piastres had gone to found a fez factory. 
Apparently till shortly before this all Egypt's red fezes had come from 
Czechoslovakia. Away over there, in Turkey, Kemal Pasha had pro- 
hibited the wearing of the fez, but here it was being made a nationalist 
party symbol. 

This fez-wearing movement was directed against Britain, and where- 
ever the flood of nationalist sentiment broke its banks British armoured 
cars rattled through the streets, in an attempt to teach the young fez- 
wearers who was really the boss. Besides Egyptians and British, in 
Cairo also lived Syrians, Maltese, Armenians, Greeks, French and 
Italians, while beside Moslems and Christians there were also many 
Jews. And, to show that all these national groups were still not, so to 
speak, all under one tarboosh, the Jews, just as our circus was being 


swung by the harbour cranes down on to this politically hot soil, now 
came out with a battle-cry of their own: 'Not a piastre for the 
Hagenbeck Circus !' 

Never before in my life had I drunk so many cups of black coffee as 
I did in those Cairo days, which we spent mainly in Egyptian minis- 
tries and other official places and in editorial offices. There was no end 
to the task of removing ever-new obstacles to our tour. Even our 
potential audience was split into factions. The students were against 
Britain. Nahas Pasha was against King Fuad. Country youth were en- 
thusiastic about the Crown Prince Farouk. (Farouk was then still as 
lean as a rake !) Our aim was to put on a show for them all, but we had 
to mind our p's and q's not to lose popularity either through a false 
note in our bill of lading or a false note in the pieces played by our 
brass band. 

At last all was in order, the preliminaries were over, and our circus 
army began its peaceable march of conquest through Egypt. Our 
clowns rode on the necks of our elephants to the pyramids at Gizeh, 
and I doubt whether the Sphinx ever saw anything funnier than the 
impromptu show given there that day. 

A remarkable string of caravans moved in to the opening show in 
our town of tents, peasant families riding in on their donkeys from 
the surrounding villages. Nomads came swaying on their camels. 
Among them were to be seen antique Fords, chugging busily along, 
vehicles brought long since by fate by who can tell what adventure- 
some roads to be the bargain pieces of the desert. Shoe-cleaners, 
wandering pedlars and dragomans poured in with the crowds. 

From the first day the black-uniformed desert police, commanded 
by remarkably lean British officers, were openly on our side. The only 
time we saw them intervene in the ideological conflicts was when the 
King's opponent, Nahas Pasha, decided to come to a show and anti- 
regime demonstrations were to be expected. 

'At the first cry of "Down with the King!" * laughed a police 
major, 'we shall cut in/ Eloquently he cracked his long crocodile- 
hide whip. 

'Yes/ I remarked, 'and that's just where things will get out of 
hand and all our seating arrangements will be upset 1* 

The police chief thought twice of his impetuosity. Very well, he 
said, there would be no beating up in the circus. But he assured us that 


we could count our programme off if the crowds gave Nahas Pasha 
any sort of ovation. Our programme did indeed turn into a sort of 
background to the many bursts of applause for the distinguished visitor. 
Indeed, that evening the seating seemed to have been taken exclusively 
by fanatics. But the following day the Crown Prince Farouk's friends 
had their counter-show, the only difference being that as the young 
peasants who were his supporters could afford only the cheaper seats 
the affair on this occasion was mainly confined to the gallery. The 
youthful Crown Prince himself was most enthusiastic about our show. 
It was the first circus he had ever seen. He honoured some of the per- 
formers by summoning them to his box and saluting them, hand to 

While in Egypt, I was also put in rather a spot in matters of circus 
etiquette by ex-King Alfonso VIII of Spain, who combined a hunting 
expedition in the Upper Sudan with a visit to Carl Hagenbeck's show. 
In the case of Nahas Pasha's visit it had all been a matter of tact, namely 
whether any public honour done to Nahas Pasha would not hurt the 
feelings of the King. Now it was a question of music. I had my band- 
master asking me for he was worried about whether he would be 
able to get hold of the score what anthem he was to play I 

In Egypt a circus man certainly needed to have a keen eye to all the 
political tangles. Many a time we ground our teeth, many a time a lot 
of dust was flung in our eyes. Nor is this to be taken only politically, 
for from time to time we were overcome by sandstorms. Hot clouds 
of the stuff then poured in through every possible crevice. One's eyes 
became inflamed, nose and ears were full of it. Together with Nile 
water, it is these sandstorms which are blamed for all the eye disease 
of Egypt. Rarely have I seen so many people suffering from ophthalmia 
and even blindness as in the streets of Egypt. 

However, the last sandstorm we saw was one released especially in 
our honour by the City Commandant of Cairo. That worthy was so 
impressed by our circus cavalry, and the performance of the famous 
Casi Italian riding group in particular, that he asked us out to Helio- 
polis to see a parade of his own mounted desert police. Cane chairs 
were provided for us on the edge of the field of operations and we 
were loaded with compliments, while Nubian orderlies brought round 
drinks and cigarettes. A squadron of black-uniformed lancers on 
lovely white Arab mounts then took the salute, their bright yellow 
leather and reddish-yellow lance pennants making a picture to excite 
the enthusiasm of any horseman. Next, the Bimbashi, or Major, gave a 



command, and, riding level as a line drawn with a ruler, the cavalcade 
galloped shoulder to shoulder down on us. 

The cavalry exercises under the scorching sun of Africa which fol- 
lowed were accompanied by the clamour of trumpets. To wind up, 
the order to charge was given and the squadron stormed down on us 
with thundering hoofs. The very earth shuddered till our lemonade 
glasses danced on the tables. Vast dense clouds of dust rose, spreading 
till everything except the glittering points of the lances was enveloped. 
When at last it cleared, I turned, to find myself blinking into the face 
of the Bimbashi, who now seemed most pleased with himself. I 
invited him and his men to our show. He accepted, but on condition 
that his dark-skinned musicians should first show their gratitude by 
giving a concert in the ring. Those lancers made our big top ring with 
the most spirited Prussian marches that it had ever heard ! 

The Bimbashi beamed like the glorious sunshine itself, and his rays 
reached even as far as Alexandria, where the attempt to get us 
boycotted flared up again. But by reason of three hundred lancers 
distributed in the sand dunes round about, the attempt failed. At 
Alexandria, our linguistic wonder, Aage, the Norwegian clown, won 
tremendous applause whenever he greeted the Alexandrians princi- 
pally Greeks who filled the seats every evening with 'Kalispera' 
'Good evening.' 

A fortnight later, we inaugurated our Spanish tour at Barcelona. 
The revolution which heralded the three years' civil war then just 
developing had shaken the whole country. While we were at 
Zamora a general strike broke out and not a man would touch a tool. 
The military commandant offered us the aid of Spanish army units to 
set up our tents, but I thanked him and declined the offer, for though 
the help would indeed have been welcome, I certainly did not want to 
set the strikers against us and we managed by ourselves, musicians, 
performers and tamers all helping, an effort which impressed every- 
body. At the same time I impressed on our folk that they were not to 
utter a single critical word, and I must put it on record that, though 
we had fourteen nationalities among us, not one got out of step in any 
one of the twenty-six cities of Spain, including Madrid, in which we 
gave performances. 

However, partly owing to the revolutionary ferment, partly also 
to the incredible poverty of the people, we could not earn sufficient 
pesetas in Spain. Though during performances friends and foes sat 
side by side under the one tent roof, as the weeks went by one could 



begin to feel the underground rumble of the terrible civil war which 
awaited Spain* It was for this reason that at Valencia I decided to 
break the tour off, and as there was a Lloyd steamer at that moment at 
Castellon de la Plana, in ballast on her homeward voyage, Herbert 
chartered her and loaded everything for Hamburg, which we reached 
the day before Christmas Eve, a Christmas tree ablaze with light on 
our foremast. Our performing animals then travelled to London on a 
British ship, and a winter season at the Agricultural Hall began. 



'BACK FROM its world tour.' This watchword, telling that Hagenbeck's 
merry Noah's Ark was back from a journey through three continents 
was the leitmotiv of our 193$ German tour. Ainywhere, anything 
that has come from a remote clime is always prized most. Despite 
all their art, one could not get very far with a turn put on by folk born 
in the Neukoln suburb of Berlin and blessed with the good name of 
Nilbock, but call them 'The Three Lorandos' and we had a turn which 
enjoyed enormous success at the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris, at New 
York's Madison Square Garden circus, and also at Britain's Blackpool 
Tower. It was indeed one well worth seeing. (Here I may observe that 
in most circuses in the world the language commonly spoken is 
German, and German, moreover, with a distinct Berlin or Saxon 

The question which was now discussed at the latest conference of 
the circus kings of the day was whether it should be Sarrasani or 
Hagenbeck who got the contract at the Olympic Games in Berlin. 
There was not much to choose between the two of us, but eventually 
Berlin, and Sarrasani too, agreed that we should be the ones to get the 
job, this solely on the grounds that we were the only enterprise 
which, apart from the Australian continent, had played everywhere in 
the world. 

After the Far East tour, which was the crowning achievement of 
his circus years, Richard Sawade had by now retired to his villa at 
Lokstedt, a suburb of Hamburg, a house full of mementoes and valu- 
able presents. Since the Spanish tour ended, my boy Herbert had 
taken over the management of the circus. Erich, who had gone down 
with a bad bout of typhoid while at Cairo, where we had been 
obliged to leave him, was now back with his sea-lion group. 

Now Herbert rang me up from Berlin. 'Father, you simply must 
come to the first night,' he said in great excitement, 'there will be 
crowds of people of the corps diplomatique, and Government repre- 
sentatives galore have said they will come. The Prime Minister is going 
to be there.' 

Now, this latter personality was a gentleman I certainly wanted to 



have a word with, for it was no secret that as Chief Verderer of the 
German Reich he was also interested in the animal world, and it was 
my hope that this interest was not limited to his 'aboriginal German 
wild animals. ' The point is that we were urgently in need of a word of 
support from him to our application for the diversion of Kaiser 
Friedrich Road, which ran right through the middle of our Stellingen 

I put on tails and was just able to catch an aeroplane, and for the 
first time in my life saw our big top from the air. I accompanied the 
Prime Minister, who seemed most forthcoming, through the men- 
agerie. This tour of inspection rather dragged out, and the Berlin folk 
waiting in the circus tent otherwise folk, of course, so well known 
for their restraint suddenly began chanting: 'Come on, Hermann, 
we want to begin. ' At that time he was still known simply as Goring. 
Later, however, when the bombs had begun to fall on Berlin, he 
wanted to be known as Meier. 

That programme which we offered the company of Olympiad 
guests assembled that night in Berlin was one of the best in our whole 
circus history. Alfred Kaden capped all previous big-cat shows with 
his team of lions drawing a Roman chariot I A lion three-in-hand had 
been a headline sensation of the New York press in 1890. Indeed, it 
was with the tamer Deyerling's three lions in harness that my father 
helped his new method of training by kindness to win through. And 
now Kaden was an accomplishment for circus-lovers in Olympiad- 
minded Berlin. Countless friends that evening greeted me and wished 
us well. The Eleventh Olympic Games had assembled them from all 
corners of the world, and they had not been at all surprised to find the 
Carl Hagenbeck Circus in Berlin's Fehrbellin Square. 

'Auf wiedersehen in 1940 in Tokyo!' our Japanese guests cried, and 
the Japanese Ambassador, Hiroshi Oshima (who was later to pay us a 
call at Stellingen), promised me he would smooth out any difficulties 
for us. But neither he nor I then realised that three years later it was 
to come to the second world war, which would put paid to all such 
schemes of travel. 

On November nth our circus band was once again playing its 
signature tune 'Muss i denn . . .'* in Hamburg docks and the Hamburg- 
Siid s.s. Vigo drew away from the transoceanic landing stage. It was 
taking our artistes, musicians and office staff to Montevideo, while the 

* The lovely South German folk song, which begins: 'So must I then away to the 
town . . .' 



technical staff, the tamers, and all the animals and performing groups 
were to be taken on board the s.s. Paraguay at Bremerhaven when our 
Bremen run came to its close. The menagerie was to travel on the 
General Osorio. As usual, I went on ahead, on the Cap Arcona, my second 
voyage on this ship, which was now to take me to Uruguay. 

We had reached the latitude of Cap Frio when I received a cable 
to say that the Paraguay had sustained rudder damage and with wind 
force nine to ten was drifting in the latitude of Cape Finisterre. That 
cable certainly brought the perspiration to my forehead. I could only 
too well imagine that small freighter battling, rudderless, in the raging 
waters of the Bay of Biscay. Would the cables hold, would all our stuff 
that was deck cargo not be swept overboard? And how was my boy 
Herbert faring? 

I at once got our ship's radio operator on the job. After four anxious 
hours the answer came through: 'Rudder fixed, all well, serious 
damage limited to Hold i , ' But just as I heaved a great sigh of relief 
there was the radio officer, a regular Job that night, with a fresh 
message. 'The Vigo, Herr Hagenbeck . . .* 

I refused to accept it, and rushed up to see the captain, but he 
could only shrug his shoulders and say that no more was known yet 
than that the Vigo was twenty-four hours behind the Paraguay, hence 
now in the heart of the storm, and there had been no response from 
her for the last half-hour, while the Hapag s.s. his, which was about 
thirty knots distant from her, had also been sending out an SOS, but 
was now suddenly equally silent. 

I was blind to the beauties of Rio Bay. At that very moment the 
news vendors of Hamburg were already shouting: 'Hagenbeck Circus 
goes down.' Then while so many families at home were racked with 
anxiety and grief and the harbour authorities were being besieged 
with questions there was our radio officer again at my door, this 
time with very good news. It had been merely the his's radio which 
had gone out of action, the ship had come safely through the storm. 

Thereupon that radio officer and I treated ourselves to double 
brandies and it occurred to me that our fellows on board the Paraguay 
and the Vigo might have similar desires. So I cabled a fiver ahead, 
cashable at the first chance of a pub crawl on land. Wireless thanks 
were not tardy in coming through ! The Vigo crowd essayed madeira 
at Funchal, the Paraguayans took their pleasure later on the sea front at 

By the time the first ship had reached Montevideo, the terrors of 



that storm were quite forgotten, but it only needed a glance down into 
the deep holds of the ship to see what a pummelling that particular 
ark had taken. The heavy lorry with our diesel equipment had broken 
loose of its moorings and damaged the heating wagon and other 
wagons on either side of it. The carnivores' cage-wagon had all but 
been washed overboard indeed, it had only been saved at all thanks 
to our brave fellows who constantly laboured, up to their waists in 
water at times, fastening new hawsers. 

Good old Lulu Gautier, our veteran haute icole rider, who accounted 
himself a Swede, but had been born in a caravan which to judge by his 
accent in German must have been stationed a jolly long time on the 
River Spree, had given the ship up as lost and busied himself knocking 
together a raft ! 

We erected our tent on the Playa Ramirez beach, a rather breezy 
spot, but on the other hand one which was central. Besides, the con- 
stant sea breeze tempered the tropical heat, for immediately beyond 
the outer fence of our ground the deep swell of the Atlantic broke in 
rollers over Montevideo's marvellous bathing beach. 

This time we had prepared a special surprise for South America 
our illuminated revue La Libellula Azul y with twenty-four girls in 
phosphorescent costumes, the whole show a fantasy in light effects 
and music, which Rewiiterich, as our master of ballet was always 
called, had sold to me. I had the idea of offering the Argentine this 
'Blue Libel* pantomime, for this was my third South American tour, 
and I wanted to show something really novel. 

As an integral part of the show the pantomime included our new 
French aerial number. First, the Zemgannos showed the usual trapeze 
work, then came their unique trick capping all else all at once out 
went the lights, as if there had been a short circuit, and then one saw 
them flying soundlessly through the air in their illuminated costumes. 
That weightless flying and gliding through the air, emphasised by nerve- 
tensing music, those illuminated saltos and pirouettes through com- 
plete blackness, were like the flight of giant butterflies. The audience 
held their breath, spellbound, and when the lights suddenly came on 
again and they appeared in the ring below and bowed to the amphi- 
theatre, those courageous artistes were granted thunderous applause. 

One day, in the very heart of the performance, there was suddenly a 
crazy rattle as it seemed of firearms somewhere just behind us, 
and then, amid the din, the distinct sound of mortars. Erich was on at 
the moment with his sea-lions, and the animals huddled in a heap and 



then rushed off, while the lions roared, the elephants trumpeted and 
our wildly neighing horses tore at their chains. A zebra broke loose, 
galloped to the high sea-wall and plunged over, to break its neck and 
fall dead on the spot. And then we discovered that it was neither army 
manoeuvres nor a sudden outbreak of a new revolution, but merely the 
action of the kindly sun, mercilessly setting fire to all the elaborate 
fireworks set up on the beach for the Montevideo in Flames show which 
was to have been given on the beach that very evening. 

It was a bad omen, but could anything really shake us, after Japan- 
ese typhoons, Biscayan storms and Egyptian sandstorms? Well, here 
at this wind-swept spot of Montevideo, I must confess that we found 
that the much-feared South American tornadoes known as pamperos 
could give us a worrying time, nor did they wait long about it. The 
first broke a few days later, and at its peak reached a wind-speed 
velocity of just on eighty miles an hour. On this occasion the whirl- 
wind tore a biggish rent in the tent and then, just as we were expect- 
ing the whole thing to be destroyed and were very worried, because 
we had at that moment a full house it suddenly moved off out to sea. 

The circus cleared at once. People poured out through every exit. 
I had the canvas dropped and everything was furled and lashed, and 
only just in time too, for in a few minutes a second whirlwind came 
up. Like good seamen, our fellows sprang to the guy ropes of the 
stabling. Fortunately, the rain, which was now pouring down in 
torrents, made all the canvas many tons heavier than normally. There 
was yet a third, but weaker, whirlwind, which did no more damage, 
so that after all, by dint of speedy repair work, we were able to resume 
performances the very next afternoon. 

Box office results, however, were fated to fall off, for in the country 
round Montevideo epidemics of smallpox and chickenpox had broken 
out and entry to the city was suddenly prohibited. I at once decided 
to curtail the run and go on to Buenos Aires, but a spate of press 
reports alarmed the Argentine quarantine authorities and we were 
refused an entry permit. While Herbert flew to Buenos Aires to see 
what he could do about it, we made a further attempt to attract the 
Montevideans. We put on our Libellula Azul show, but when the lights 
went out there were at once furious cries of 'Put on those lights! 1 

We thought we had thought of everything, but we had certainly not 
thought of pickpockets, and they were apparently having the time of 
their lives the moment that people's attention was attracted, and 
dazzled, in the dark by the flashing lights above. After that we had the 



girls do their stuff under spotlights and only used the special light 
effects for short bursts to heighten the effect. Then came Herbert's 
telegram to say that we had our permit. 

It was by night that our steamers crossed the Rio de la Plata the 
River of Silver the tremendous quantities of soil in the waters of 
which colour the Atlantic yellow for a considerable distance beyond 
the mouth of the river. Where the La Plata current drives these water 
masses out into the sea, the dorados swim about like mad things in 
the surface water on the borderline between the salt and fresh 

On this visit to Buenos Aires, we erected the circus at the Retiro 
station at Puerto Nuevo, and in the first three weeks counted an 
audience total of one hundred thousand. For Herbert had had a very 
good idea. He had invited no less than two thousand Argentinian 
newspapers to the first nix show. They simply drank in the whole 
programme on which they would not have been likely to spend their 
own money and it was the best possible publicity, for without ex- 
ception they praised us to the skies, indicating where we were on 
any day and giving times of performances and prices on their own 

Those young journalists were also our great support in the battle 
for success at La Plata, where we gave a gala performance to celebrate 
the fiftieth anniversary of my father's first circus effort at the Heili- 
gengeist Field in Hamburg. The programme of that first circus of 
Father's which decided my life's career at the age of five and almost 
certainly explains how it was that despite Father's prohibition I 
myself later became a circus manager had always hung over the desk 
in my office wagon. The porter brought in a card and told me that an 
elderly lady wished to see me. The card read 'Senora Brown.' The 
lady was a little embarrassed. The faint blush on her cheeks suited her 
very well. But I was sure I was going to hear another of those heart- 
melting stories of the favourite cat or dog, which generally begin 
with the words : 'Mr. Hagenbeck, I must tell you about my Pfiffi, I am 
so sure you will be thrilled . . .' and I had folded my hands in resigna- 
tion when her glance fell on that framed programme. 

'But there it is, hanging in your office,' she cried, with evident 
delight. 'I had brought a copy of that very programme to show you 1 
I am Dolinda de la Plata! 9 

In great excitement she fumbled in her handbag and a moment later 
smoothed out some yellowing papers on my desk. 'Mr. Hagenbeck,' 



she said, 'you were then only a tiny little rascal so high* and she 
indicated the height of my writing desk. 'I can still see you as you 
were in your little velvet suit, in the box. You must have been about 
five, when my sister Rosita and I rode in your father 's show P 

My heart rejoiced. I could not have wished myself a happier visit. 
We sat talking a very long time, and I heard her life story, the final 
and perhaps least exciting chapter of which was that of her marriage 
to a wealthy husband. 

'Would you believe it, 1 she said, 'my husband is really not at all 
pleased that I have come to see you. But I am not going to run away 
with the circus again today/ She laughed, and blushed again. But, she 
said, she had not been able to stay quietly out at her villa at Belgrano 
while we here in Buenos Aires were celebrating the great day when 
she played in Carl Hagenbeck's first circus performance in Hamburg ! 

And so this festive occasion saw two worthy matrons, Dolinda and 
Rosita, both in a box of honour, and I watched Dolinda's eyes grow 
moist when she applauded the graceful pas-de-deux or the dizzy somer- 
saults of our Italian riders. 

After fifty years, Seiiora Brown and her sister once again had the 
pleasure, in the jubilee reports of the Buenos Aires press, to read the 
compliments which Hamburg critics had showered on them fifty 
years before. 'Magnificent riders of volcanic temperament, whose 
supreme art delighted the audience. Such grace, such daring leaps and 
pirouettes. The audience expressed their warm admiration of the 
"de la Plata" sisters.' 

At La Plata, Germany meant three things : Hagenbeck, Zeppelin and 
Cap Arcona. The luxury steamer Cap Arcona, proud flagship of the 
Hamburg-Siid line, was the personification of German punctuality and 
reliability. It was considered the thing in Argentinian 'society 1 to make 
at least one voyage to Europe in her luxury cabins. One could truly 
have set one's watch by her arrivals and departures. 

When that year the Zeppelin Hindenburg with its roaring engines 
cruised over Buenos Aires every ship's siren shrieked out its salute. 
Even the newspapers fitted in, for it was the custom in Buenos Aires 
for the big publishing houses to draw the attention of their readers to 
any novelties. With southern enthusiasm, anybody who looked German 
found himself embraced in the open street. And where did we stand? 
One of the leading newspapers put it as follows in its headlines to an 
article: 'Hagenbeck is Germany's best ambassador,' it said, and we 
were proud of the praise. 



From Buenos Aires we went by way of Rosario and Santa F6 to 
Resistencia, on the southern frontier of Paraguay. What magnificent 
landscapes those were ! Candelabra cacti sixteen feet high, pine woods, 
eucalyptus woods. Wherever lakes gleamed there were myriads of 
birds maguari storks, ibises, peewits and chayas, as the Argentinians 
call those rare fighting cocks which have spurs even on their wings. 
When our circus columns broke that paradisial natural peace, flocks of 
enormous white and red flamingoes took wing. 

Next we struck across the Gran Chaco, as far as the city of Salta, 
where, on the edge of the primordial forest, no circus had ever been 
before. Here the distances between one town and another were often 
as great as the whole width of Germany from Konigsberg to Cologne. 
Before we could reach Salta we found ourselves obliged to repeat our 
Japanese technique, and strip the wheels from our wagons, to get 
through the low-pitched tunnels, but the effort was worth it. In came 
the gauchos in their brilliantly coloured ponchos, which are cloaks 
consisting of a piece of cloth with a hole in the middle for the head to 
go through. The landscapes here were cast with precise colour scales. 
Picturesque mounted herdsmen, with their typical broad leather belts, 
hung with jingling Bolivian silver pieces, rode in from a large radius 
round. People came in with wagons from the slopes of the Cordilleras, 
and there were settlers who drove from the very borders of Bolivia in 
rattling carts on wheels higher than a man. The attendance was so 
great that we could not cope with the masses. Paciencia! Mariana! At 
least South American slackness was here to our advantage, for when we 
told them they could not get in, without a murmur they spread out 
their hide saddles and all night the camp-fires glowed in a ring all 
round us. The men of the primeval forest bivouacked and waited. 

Our name, however, proved an insuperable obstacle to the people, 
in the majority of Indian origin. The Creoles made it Ahhenbeck, 
while the pressmen pronounced it in English style and even spelled 
it as they spoke H6genbeck. My nephew Fritz was a great collector 
of mispronunciations of our name. He had assembled thirty- two differ- 
ent world variants, the prize going to Hengleberth. 

The greatest success in the Gran Chaco city was that of our sea- 
lions. The Argentinian word for the sea-lion is lobos mannero. When 
these animals balanced paraffin lamps on their noses and climbed 
ladders with them, juggled with balls and in conclusion played on the 
horn piano, our bronze-skinned Gran Chaco friends were beside 
themselves with delight. 



Here our carnivore tamers had an exciting incident. During a per- 
formance, two fully-grown maned lions attacked each other. Jonny 
Schipfmann, the son of our old Russian traveller, threw himself 
between them. But in a flash all the gauchos in the audience had drawn 
their guns and surrounded the central cage, trigger-ready. Each was 
out to be the hero and they were all poking their Colts through the 
bars in preparation. Without delay, our folk intervened, for that 
'assistance' was of far greater danger than the lions. There was real 
danger of our gun-boys potting each other through the cage while 
Schipfmann drove the lions back into the tunnel leading to the ring. 
We had the impression that our marksmen visitors were rather dis- 
appointed as they tucked their guns back into their holsters. 

This South American tour of ours was marked throughout by a 
struggle against the elements. In Mendoza, city of vineyards and 
churches, an earthquake brought the whole population out of doors in 
their night attire. The festooned lights over our circus danced as if we 
were on the high seas. At Rufino on the Pacific Railway we ran into a 
sandstorm which lasted six hours, while at Venado Tuerto we were 
nearly drowned by rain and mud. For months not a drop of water had 
fallen and this had prompted us to risk erecting the circus on a sun- 
baked field which lay in a hollow. Then, all at once, the heavens opened 
their sluices, and in a few hours the water was a foot deep over the 
whole ground, and the streets of the town were torrential brooks 
pouring more water still down on us. We had no option but to return 
all the gate money and pull out as quickly as ever we could. Dis- 
mantling our circus generally took us six hours, but on this occasion 
we needed forty-eight hours. Our tent men and tractor drivers fought 
day and night against the torrential rain which continually poured 
down, costing us a round thirty thousand pesos. 

A new surprise was occasioned us by our journey to Cordoba. On 
the way the skies suddenly darkened. The next instant it was not hail- 
stones which clattered down against window-panes and roofing but- 
locusts, locusts in their billions. A cloud of them about fifty miles long 
and fifteen miles broad was blacking out the sun. Wherever they came 
down, the crops were destroyed. Our train slowed down, then sud- 
denly stopped altogether. The locomotive had plunged a foot deep 
into a churned-up mass of insects, till it could not move at all. The 
wheels skidded helplessly in the squelchy mess. 

The driver, fireman and guards tied handkerchiefs across their 
mouths, strapped sleeves and trouser legs tight round wrists and 



ankles, and laboured to shovel the track clear. The fireman shovelled 
red-hot ashes on to the rails, and with much hissing and puffing the 
locomotive slowly forged its way through the buzzing swarms of 
migrating locusts. 

The only creatures which got any pleasure out of that chance 
meeting were our monkeys. In their hundreds the insects poured in 
through the ventilators of the monkeys' box- wagons, to be gobbled 
down by the handful. The following morning the animals were still 
sleeping it off, snug in their straw, their bellies rotund and their 
pouches still crammed full of the insects. It certainly was a party for 

After a three-thousand-mile tour through the Argentine, we at last 
erected our circus at Buenos Aires. In the Chaco, near Resistencia, we 
had shot jacars, or alligators, on the La Germania ranch we had 
lassoed agile nandus, eaten asado grilled au brocket and drunk fragrant 
foaming mat through silver tubes from ornate gourds. 

Cosida, then the most celebrated bandit leader under the Southern 
Cross, was our 'guest* here. Throughout the country, the police 
were looking for him and his men, when there he was, in a red car, 
driving up to our box office. We of course had no idea who it was, 
while those who did were dumb from sheer terror. To our men he 
was just a rich ranch owner. I was not present, but it seems that 
Cosida and his men made a long chain which slowly backed towards 
the office ticket shutter, none of the Argentinians daring to give the 
alarm from fear of being turned into a sieve by bullets. 

Cosida reached his goal: * Fifty front seats, please.' 

'Sorry, sold out,' said the man on duty. 

'Then fifty box seats. ' 

'There are only six boxes left, sir, that makes forty-eight seats, but 
I will have two more chairs brought into one of them for you. ' 

l Mvy bien, here are twenty pesos for your kindness. I also want five 
gallery seats, anywhere in the circus.' 

He put down the money and turned to give away the fifty box 
seats to the poorest 'fence- viewers,' while he himself and four of his 
bodyguard dissolved somewhere among the five thousand members 
of tie audience. Though his description was published in the whole 
press, not a man betrayed him, and I only learned that he had been 
there at all after his red car had long vanished from the scene. 

One of my great delights was a fan mail of no less than seven 
hundred letters which came in after I gave a talk on the Argentine 



radio system. They were from the remotest corners of the Gran 
Chaco, from the Matto Grosso region of Brazil, from the most out- 
of-the-way settlements where only Germans had established them- 
selves. The 'German Hour* of Buenos Aires radio was often largely 
occupied by Hagenbeck's, our tamers and performers giving inter- 
views and many items of our programme being described. From the 
mail I received I saw that there were many of our blood who had 
travelled distances which took days to be able to hear those pro- 
grammes which brought them a touch of the homeland. One letter 
read: 'I really ought to be rather angry with you, for during the 
running commentary on the circus my wife let the dinner get burnt 
to a frazzle.* 



WHILE THE circus was completing its Argentinian tour, I had taken the 
Cap Arcona back to Germany. At Stellingen the zoo-geographical re- 
arrangement of our animal park was nearing completion. A large 
party of zoo directors and other guests of honour from various coun- 
tries of Europe had been invited to the inauguration of the large cage- 
less sections for elephants and rhinos. With those installations, which 
completed the new 'Asia* division of the park, Stellingen had com- 
pletely changed its appearance, particularly as my brother Heinrich 
had finally succeeded in getting the Kaiser Friedrich Road diverted, so 
that it no longer cut through our grounds. 

An army of navvies, powerfully backed by our Indian and African 
working elephants, had accomplished all the constructional work. 
Where previously the trams had clattered through the park there were 
now broad lawns, flower-beds and shrubberies, and near the main 
entrance the giant bears of the Alaskan island of Kodiak now greeting 
people when they came in. Their ingeniously planned free compound, 
visible on either side, became our shop window. 

While our tented circus was still touring the Argentine, groups of 
performing lions and tigers, African and Indian elephants, sea-lions 
and various artistes went from Stellingen to Berlin's Deutschland 
Hall. We wanted a striking general title for the show. What was it to 
be? We racked our brains. Should we take the title of Father's book 
Beasts and Men! Far too modest. Then, perhaps, Men, Beasts and 
Attractions! * Sensation!' cried my nephew Fritz, and we had it. In no 
time the brushes of the decorators were at work Men, Animals, 
Sensations was the name for the Deutschland Hall programme, and it 
rang the bell too. 

From the circus performer's standpoint Berliners are the most 
critical but also the most open-hearted folk in Germany. Their 
repartee can kill stone dead, or it can be a springboard to greater fame. 
For this reason the management of the Deutschland Hall engaged only 
what was best in ring and stage work. Hence, to have had an engage- 
ment there was equivalent as recommendation in the trade to having 
played in New York's Madison Square Garden or London's Olympia. 



One of the items of the Hagenbeck programme this year was a 
plucky American girl who climbed to the dizzy height of a seventy- 
two-foot ladder and dived into a diminutive water-tank only ten feet 
in diameter. This brave young artiste had toured the world with that 
sensational diving act, in which a few inches made all the difference 
between life and death. 

Her fame at Berlin was only topped by that of Koringa, a twenty- 
one-year-old tousle-headed girl who did an Indian fakir turn in which 
she also carried through breath-taking experiments in hypnosis and 
catalepsy with crocodiles and giant snakes. Barefoot, she climbed a 
ladder, the rungs of which consisted of razor-sharp sabres, and she 
came unscathed through terrifying medieval tortures. Her large 
black eyes seemed to attract not only animals but also men. She was 
certainly a captivating figure in the circus world. 

The following year we again sent a large contingent of exotic 
animals to the capital. The Deutschland Hall was then transformed 
into an African jungle scene for a revue called Ki-sua-heli. It was an 
enchanting sight to see our two hundred flamingoes rise with out- 
stretched wings in a blush-pink cloud towards the spotlights. The 
trick was eminently uncomplicated. Before the show the birds were 
kept in a darkened room. When released they took the gleaming rays 
of the lights for the rising sunshine, in which, every morning, in 
their Stellingen Park home, they stretched their wings. 

However, the real sensation, not only for myself but for other 
people, in that year's Deutschland Hall programme the last show of 
peacetime was the first indoor flight in the world. Today helicopters 
are the maids-of-all-work of the air, but at that time the suggestion 
of an aircraft flying inside a hall was unheard-of folly. A year before 
this, Professor Heinrich, test pilot of the Focke Works, had at Bremen 
attained international records for Germany with this discovery. At a 
time when no other movable-wing aircraft in the world had got be- 
yond the testing ground, Hanna Reitsch was the first woman to fly a 
helicopter from Bremen to Berlin. 

'Caution, caution 1* the loudspeakers cried. 'Will members of the 
public kindly take care to hold their hats and their programmes 
firmly. The suction of the rotors is so powerful that loose objects 
might be sucked up and endanger the aircraft. ' 

The three-armed horizontal blades then began to turn and the cabin 
suspended below them slowly rose from the floor till it was close to 
the ceiling. Then the front propeller came into action, and like a 



giant moth the machine roared round and round the large hall. All at 
once it was motionless above our heads! An aircraft which could 
stand still in the air ! But that was impossible ! But there above us was 
that young hussy Hanna looking down, grinning at the fifteen thousand 
astonished faces gaping up at her. And then, after another round of the 
hall, she came down again on to her three wheeled feet. Bravo 1 
Bravo ! The deafening applause was for her and the Bremen professor. 

One September day of 1938, when all Germany, in a state of 
anxiety, was awaiting the results of the Munich conference, our circus, 
back from South America, was playing at Wanne-Eickel in the Ruhr 
to almost empty seats. War ! That menacing word was hovering in the 
air. In the dwelling wagons of the circus artistes from other coun- 
tries and our Czechoslovak tent workers clustered round their 
radio sets, to catch any news from home. All around were anti- 
aircraft guns, searchlights and listening appliances, already in position. 
It was the menacing stillness which precedes a storm. 

When, late in the afternoon, the results of the conference were 
broadcast, and it appeared that Chamberlain, Mussolini, Hitler and 
Daladier had once again prevented the outbreak of a second world war, 
a wave of joyous relief ran through Germany. Orders to withdraw 
were almost immediately given to all military units. But there were 
not sufficient tractors to remove all the guns and other equipment at 
once from the positions they had taken up, and the Wanne-Eickel 
batteries were actually manhandled away by the men in uniform, for 
them to be able to visit our show that same evening. They were, I 
confess, stoutly supported in this effort by our working elephants, 
who to accommodate the customer put their best into it. 

Our last peacetime tour wound up with our show at the Bremen 
fair. Then came our traditional 'works banquet* at Stellingen, when 
once a year all who worked in the circus, in whatever capacity, 
joined in a festive evening. The favourite dancing partner that evening 
was a senorita from Mexico, who was also our only feminine animal 
catcher. This was the first occasion on which we could admire lovely 
Erika Cook. Since, in 1864, Lorenzo Casanova founded the line of our 
animal catchers and world travellers, we had had no less than forty- 
eight men who year in, year out caught for us from the North Pole to 
the South. 

By 1913, we could count fully sixty species of mammal which we 



had been pioneers in supplying alive, and the number was further in- 
creased when our official zoologists, such as Dr. Sokolowsky, Dr. 
Knottnerus-Meyer, Professor Dr. de Beaux and last, but not least, the 
present director of the Miinster Zoo, Ludwig Zukowsky, took up this 
work. In 1937 we succeeded, again as pioneers, in bringing sea- 
leopards (the Ogmorhinus leptonyx Blainville) to Stellingen. Many of 
those animals, brought to Europe alive for the first time by the firm 
of Carl Hagenbeck of Hamburg, have become known scientifically by 
the distinguishing label Hagenbecki. 

Though Seiiorita Erika Cook had played no part in all this work, 
just before the war she supplied us a number of times with flamingoes, 
monitors and rattlesnakes from the peninsula of Yucatan. On this par- 
ticular occasion she had brought her contingent with her. When our 
man took his lorry down to the harbour to pick them up, rather ex- 
pecting to find a mutton-fisted mannish sort of woman, all he could 
see on the ship's rail was a graceful young creature whom he would 
have taken for a French frock model. 

'Are you Mrs. Cook?' he asked. 

'Si, si,' shj nodded down to him, her enormous ear-rings dangling 
out from under the sombrero. 

There was a sudden transformation of the most cross-grained of our 
animal keepers. They all became most charming caballeros. But just 
as mysteriously as she appeared, the lovely Erika vanished, parting 
suddenly from us again for ever, in search of new adventures. She 
held her air pilot's papers, of course drove a car, she carried a gun 
and she caught dangerous snakes. At the party that year she carried 
off the first prize. But that was partly because I made all the crack 
shots promise to leave her an easy victory! 

When after the Polish campaign the centre of gravity of the war 
switched to the Western Front, the painters got busy on every Ger- 
man circus, turning it dark green, for the war in the air made it 
essential to camouflage the bright canvas tops. Out went the sparkling 
festoons of lights, and circuses had to institute their air-raid squads, 
among whose duties it was to see that all tent-rope stanchions were 
capped with white, and the way to the nearest shelter or trench was 
clearly indicated. Steel helmets, gas masks and first-aid sets had to be 
at hand. Petrol and oil went on ration. 

Our pony teams were now used to go to the post office and the 



slaughter-house. Instead of juicy quarters of meat for the carnivores, 
they got only offal. Sugar, bread, groundnuts, bananas and oranges 
vanished from the animals' menus. The most important document we 
received every month was the food permit from the Hamburg 
authorities, one for men, and one for animals. As the months dragged 
by, our ranks became thinner. More and more age groups were called 
to the Army. Fully a thousand favourite circus sites in North- West 
Germany had to be closed to us as a precaution. All Germany's 
circuses now crowded into Central, Southern and Eastern Germany. 

We took up our winter quarters in our Viennese circus building. 
Then in 1940 we set out on a tour, going north as far as Dessau, and 
ending up in Danzig, which was still not blacked out. This was my 
second son, Herbert's, last tour. The following year, he fell seriously 
ill and died. 

From India too came sad news. Uncle John, seventy-four years of 
age, had died in a British internment camp. Since 1938 Erich, my 
youngest, had been working in America, in charge of our office there. 
When the war had ruined the international trade in animals, he 
travelled for a year as sea-lion trainer in the Ringling Bros., Barnum 
and Bailey show, which was friendlily disposed towards us, and while 
with this at the Sarasota headquarters he equipped their zoo with a 
rock home for the monkeys and a swimming pool for the hippo- 
potamus he had originally wanted to be an architect. But in April 
1942 came his internment in the United States. When frightful air 
attacks were threatening to destroy the life work of three generations 
of Hagenbecks, he was behind barbed wire at Fort Tennessee in 
North Dakota. 

On January ijth, 1 943 , fifteen thousand people had filled Berlin's 
Deutschland Hall. For the eighth time people were pouring in to the 
great Men, Animals, Sensations circus show, which had become almost 
a national event. Then suddenly the air-raid sirens shrilled. Enemy 
bombers were again attacking Germany's capital. 

In exemplary calm and self-possession, the massed audience filed 
out of the enormous hall. Only a very few persons were slightly hurt 
as the first incendiaries were setting the roof on fire. While the 
audience were pouring out, the circus's artistes, men and women of 
all nationalities, unseen by the general public, were already feverishly 
at work in the stables and storerooms, endeavouring to save costumes, 
equipment and above all else the animals from the blazing hall. 

Undisturbed by the thunder of the anti-aircraft guns, the tremendous 



detonations of the falling bombs, and the crashes as the roof girders 
came tumbling down, our elephants heaved the ponderous carnivores' 
cage-wagons outside, where die track-laying tractors could take them 
over. Then those magnificent animals followed their keeper, to await 
the end of the attack in nearby Grunewald wood. So long as animals 
are not wounded or terrified by fire, they are always absolutely calm, 
for, as far as their minds can tell, there is no difference between an 
air attack and a bad tropical storm. 


WE TOOK the bombing of the Deutschland Hall as a grim warning, and 
at Stellingen instituted all the anti-air-raid preparations we could 
think of. But the catastrophic assault which was visited on Hamburg 
only a few months later exceeded anything in the way of bombing 
that had previously been humanly conceivable. In the heart of the 
park, Heinrich had a staff air-raid shelter constructed. The lakes seemed 
to offer an ample supply of water against incendiaries. Besides, the 
animal park was not in the central area of a city, or near a railway 
station, as the Berlin Zoo was ; it was well out in the green belt on the 

Although most of our staff who were fit for military service had 
been taken into the forces, we were nevertheless still able to keep our 
gates open. Our handful of keepers were assisted by a number of 
prisoners of war, French, Czech, Dutch and Polish. As all the men 
enjoyed the same conditions as our own, and the work in the animal 
park was not arduous or at all monotonous, every one of them did his 
best not to lose the job, and worked well. Besides, an old soldier him- 
self, Heinrich knew what it meant to be treated decently by those 
above you. All this conduced to these men sticking to us with great 
loyalty in the hour of greatest danger, and when it came to Very lights 
burning bright over Hamburg and the bluish-white fingers of the 
searchlights trying to trace the bombers manoeuvring high above us 
every night, our own men and our P.O. W.s alike were all to be found 
at their posts scattered about the park. 

One day our defences shot down a long-distance enemy recon- 
naissance aircraft over the north-western outskirts of the town. One 
of the Canadian airmen who baled out of this came down plumb over 
our bear pit there to be caught in the branches of a tree and hang 
dangling a few feet above the animals. 

* Where on earth have I come down? 1 he asked when rescued, pale 
with strain, and holding out a packet of cigarettes as offering to our 

'In the bear pit of Hagenbeck's Animal Park,' they told him. 

'Next time I'll come in the right way, on a proper ticket,' said the 



airman, with typical Canadian humour and a sigh of relief that the 
proper inmates of his strange refuge had been locked up at the 

TTien came the night of July 2$th, 1943, the catastrophe which 
has gone down in history as the 'Great Fire of Hamburg* for the 
earlier castrophe of 1 842 was certainly dimmed by the modern total 
destruction of a city of over a million inhabitants by a hail of in- 
flammable phosphorus bombs. The clock showed about half an hour 
after midnight when the first point of the attack reached the city. 

'There have never been so many before,' people whispered, crouch- 
ing in cellars, deep shelters and trenches. But still the din of the 
engines overhead increased, till one's ear could no longer distinguish 
how many squadrons were involved. Separate craft could no longer 
be heard, nothing but the united drone of a continuous stream of roaring 
engines. The lurid glow of innumerable flares bathed walls, trees and 
the rock-mountains of our park in a ghostly light. And then hell broke 

What took place that night, when three hundred thousand dwelling 
houses were totally or partially destroyed and no less than forty 
thousand men, women and children were torn to pieces by bombs, 
crushed by falling walls or caught in flight, to be bogged down in 
boiling asphalt and burned to death, can only be pictured by a man 
who went through that inferno of a city of a million in flames. Taken 
completely by surprise by the weight of the attack, I took refuge 
together with my wife and household staff in the basement of our 
Lokstedt house where the central-heating boiler was situated. Then a 
heavy land-mine tore a huge crater in the grounds, and the blast 
destroyed the house above us, together with all my objets fait and 
mementoes. Fortunately, we were all fully dressed and were able to 
get out of the ruins. 

A zebra and a wounded wild horse came galloping by. I could well 
imagine that there was hell let loose at Stellihgen. The sky above us 
was as bright as day. About half-way through that bombing, which 
lasted a round hour and a half, a tornado of fire broke out, against 
which one could make little headway. The air was saturated with the 
acrid stench of the burning city. A hail of incendiaries came down on 
the park grounds. At the same time, down came thousand-pounders, 
tearing sixteen deep craters between the outer wall and the animal 
houses. Four block-busters one after the other then brought all 
buildings down in ruins. 



The worst part of it, however, was the fire, which was now quite 
beyond control. When the first incendiaries came down on the roof 
of the elephant house and this burst into flames, our resourceful chief 
keeper, Fritz Theisinger, quickly loosed his fourteen elephants, which 
he had kept tethered by only one hind leg, and led them outside. There 
they could try to avoid the incendiaries which were falling every- 
where, and they took refuge in the large pool. Next, aided by the 
Czech P.O.W.s, he made an attempt to save the house, but at this 
point the P.O.W.s lost their nerve and ran away. 

From the large main restaurant which was already burning 
incidentally it contained one of Germany's largest collections of 
antlers and similar trophies six waiters and keepers made good their 
escape, and made for the cellars of the summer restaurant, which 
was still untouched, but before they reached the lion pit a bomb 
destroyed them. 

At the main building, Heinrich and his boy, Carl Heinrich, who 
happened to be home on leave, were making efforts together with 
keepers and some neighbours to get the carnivores' cage- wagon out 
into the open. This they succeeded in doing, but, alas, those poor 
animals were doomed, being burnt to death the very next night in the 
Hamburg goods station marshalling yard we were trying to get 
them away to our Vienna circus quarters. 

At one blow H.E.s had now disrupted the water supply system, and 
our own mobile pumping plant was also out of action. The fire spread 
at increasing speed. In the light of the flames, I remember noticing 
that the blast had actually bent in the grill of the carnivores' cage. 
Everything was now ablaze, all our transport boxes had gone, all our 
store of timber, we had not even so much as a besom broom left; 
even the materials which we had taken care to assemble for eventual 
repairs were flaming to high heaven. 

The heat became unbearable. Animals were crouching in terror in 
the corners of their cages. It was now clearly impossible to save them, 
and so, to save them from a horrible death by burning, Heinrich and 
Carl Heinrich steeled their hearts and decided to shoot them, and 
thus at our own hands lovely Siberian tigers, black panthers, jaguars, 
pumas, bears, hyenas and wolves, and all our lion pit, creatures we 
had assembled through long years and treated with much love, had 
to perish, an animal-lover's agony as the shots rang out, destroying 
stock it would take tens of years to build up again. That night four 
hundred and fifty valuable animals lost their lives. Somehow, two 



tigers escaped from their cage. These Carl Heinrich found later, be- 
neath the ripped-up floor, where they had crept to be out of the way 
of the flames. But they too had to be shot, for we had absolutely 
nowhere to keep them. 

Incredible efforts were made in those dark hours. I saw brave 
keepers staggering with heavy giant tortoises, weighing up to three 
hundredweight, out of the terrarium. The tortoises' shells were 
already so hot that the men could only handle them after wrapping 
wet blankets over them. The terrible heat shattered the glass of the 
aquaria and terraria. The snakes slithered away into freedom in the 
night. A miniature hippopotamus and an alligator also slipped away, 
to hide in the Japanese Island pond. The alligator, indeed, lived a 
glorious free life for some weeks. 

Most of the staff housing accommodation was destroyed. Heinrich's 
villa, which escaped, was then filled with palliasses and camp beds, 
to become the first emergency home for everybody, the women 
cooking over open fires in the garden. The first day, there was 
African wart-hog to eat, and the company which sat round the table 
on that occasion still talk about that novel roast with great en- 

It is, however, a wild exaggeration to say, as some do, that lions, 
elephants and rhinos broke loose that night and brought new terror 
to the ruined streets of Hamburg. Such yarns, so bright in fantasy, 
do not correspond to the truth. Though most of our walls were down 
and many animals certainly could have got out, in fact they did not. 
On the contrary, those which were at liberty clung to the snug area 
which was familiar to them. There was the case of our last wild horse, 
which had an eye put out by a bomb splinter and galloped frantically 
away. But even this was later found close to its ruined home, peace- 
fully cropping the grass, together with the zebras. There was also a 
distracted chimpanzee which knocked at the balcony door of a house 
in Stellingen, but that was soon fetched back by veteran Beckmann, 
who was in charge of our fodder supplies. Poor old Beckmann arrived 
in a muck sweat with the chimp in his arms, having had quite an 
exacting walk back, because every few minutes he had to stop and set 
the chimp down, to dance a jig with him or indulge in other antics, 
just to keep the big anthropoid ape in placid humour. It would of 
course have been quite beyond Beckmann's strength to have persuaded 
the powerful beast to go with him if it did not want to and it did 



only want to for short spells, while the fun of the preceding game was 
still occupying its mind. 

Our Japanese sea-eagle, Jonny, who also escaped, was to be seen 
the following day, wheeling round and round over the park. For Jonny 
was used to his regular Stellingen meals, and when feeding- time came 
round let himself be taken without the slightest difficulty. The only 
animals which were rather a nuisance were some impudent baboons, 
which for weeks scared the good ladies of Stellingen, lying in wait 
for them as they went home from shopping, stealing their goods and 
making off again. When one woman's husband leapt to her rescue, 
the monkey seized the stick he was flourishing and in its rage bit it 
in small pieces with its powerful teeth. And as those dangerous 
beasts could find sufficient basic food for themselves in the gardens 
all round, and avoided all traps with great cunning, we were finally 
obliged to shoot them one by one. 

The total bill of destruction of the Stellingen Animal Park that 
night was : the main building, both restaurants, the guest house, the 
reception office, the aquarium and terrarium, the cattle compound 
stables, the large monkey rock enclosure and both farmyards. Many 
other buildings were severely damaged. The water supply and the 
seals' quarters were destroyed. Our stone reproductions of primeval 
monsters were pocked all over by flying bomb fragments. 

At the same time, in this one night, we lost all our circus winter 
quarters, together with stabling, repair shops, training rings and a 
great wealth of costumes, harness and other equipment. One com- 
plete big top, three transportable sets of seating and eighty circus 
wagons went up in flames, including here valuable dwelling wagons 
and well-fitted mobile workshops, lighting plant, caterpillar tractors 
and lorries. Three groups of performing lions and tigers and an in- 
valuable outfit of horses were also killed by the bombs. 

By night the burnt-out animal park now glowed ghostly with the 
unspent phosphorus which was spattered everywhere. Scratching his 
back against a tree plastered with this chemical, a battle material 
difficult to get rid of, our rhinoceros seriously damaged his thick 
carapace. Everywhere cinders were still smouldering. Amid charred 
timbers and twisted girders lay the distended bodies of dead animals. 
Heartbroken, Heinrich took his leather-bound copy of the first 
edition of Father's biography and in it wrote : 'An d all this was destroyed 
in ninety minutes. 9 

Nevertheless, we were not going to be beaten. Heinrich went to 



Stellingen at once, to start the work of rebuilding with working 
elephants and pony teams. He built temporary quarters for our 
bombed-out keepers and took the whole office management into his 
own villa. I made a temporary home in a converted stable. 

The war was still not over. There might be fresh bombing any 
night. However, it was clear that as soon as the clouds of smoke over 
Hamburg let them have sight of the ruins the reconnaissance planes 
realised that here any further action would be merely throwing bombs 
on a dead town, for the one-time inhabitants of which mechanical 
excavators were digging mass graves at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery. 

One of the many who met his death that night in his Stellingen home 
was Walter Ebert, our senior animal catcher. Adrian Jacobsen, 
Hagenbeck's Norwegian ship's captain and 'man catcher, 1 lost all he 
had. By Lufthansa aeroplane he now travelled back to his native island 
of Riso, one hundred and fifty miles beyond the Arctic Circle, and 
there that most meritorious traveller and explorer died. Today the 
man who in 1878 brought the first Eskimos to Germany lies at rest, 
beside his German wife, in the Stellingen graveyard. The Hamburg 
Folklore Museum houses the treasures which he collected during his 
adventurous journeys from the Arctic to the Antarctic. 

At this time only our Vienna circus building brought in any satis- 
factory revenue, but as here too most of the men were in the forces 
the circus programme consisted almost entirely of female performers. 
There were Evelyn de Cook with her performing panthers, and Gloria 
Lilienborn's accordion girls. The youngest girl of all riding in the red 
ring was Lulu Gautier's twelve-year-old daughter Ingeborg. But apart 
from the famous Danish film comedians Pat and Patachon our Lilli- 
putian gentry had also been drawn into the Heroes' Maw, as people 
began to call the remarkably keen Recruiting Commission in those 

We played almost exclusively to men on leave, soldiers en route to 
new postings, conscripted workers and the inmates of Vienna's many 
military hospitals. It was a moving sight when legless and armless 
men young, most of them some minus any limbs at all, were 
helped or carried into the circus, there to spend a couple of hours 
trying to forget what they had lost. When that gruesome train of men 
left the circus again, in the dismal blue light of the black-out lighting, 
the air force radio alarm signal would already be emitting its harsh 
tick-tack-tick-tack. What the Viennese had thought would never 



happen now descended on the carefree home of the waltz. The air- 
raid sirens drove us down into the deep shelters. 

One morning when we emerged again from the Stephensdom cata- 
combs to return to the circus, our cook's parrot Aunt Emmie we 
called it was missing. The bird had been blown by the blast of a 
bomb into a barrel which fortunately was not filled with water, but 
could not get out. Suddenly from the depths of the tub came a harsh, 
hollow voice : 'This is what life is really like, this is what life is really 
like, this is what life is really like every day !' 

Not an eye in the room was dry. Aunt Emmie was one of the most 
gifted talking parrots of the grey breed that I have ever known. They 
had had to give up taking her into the shelter with them because she 
would keep mimicking the beastly whine of falling bombs, and did it 
too well. 



THERE WAS a telegram from Malmo. A Swedish circus manager wanted 
to hire some trained groups of performing animals. I at once made an 
offer. Let me admit at once that quite a number of my closest col- 
laborators strongly advised me against it. But I did not share their 
views. Had I not first gone to Sweden during the first world war and 
taken our show there without any opposition? If the applicant could 
provide the entry permit for our performing groups, everything was 
in order. After all, the hiring of circus animals had always been our 

Telegrams flew to and fro. Visas, certificates and forms were duly 
obtained, and finally our tamers and keepers set out, together with 
their elephants, tigers, sea-lions, horses and exotic animals, travelling 
via Stettin on the ferry steamer Deutschland through the narrow mine- 
free channel which led out to the free world. They had escaped the 
bombs just before, on November 4th, 1944, our last refuge, the 
Vienna building, went up in flames. 

In May this year, Heinrich, still at Stellingen, had celebrated his 
golden wedding. According to our custom, all family celebrations and 
jubilees were held together with our collaborators. Now that our 
guest house was in ruins, Heinrich had a huge copper of good goulash 
made at home, the elephant house was specially cleaned out, and 
pony wagons transported the copper there. Heinrich also managed to 
get hold of a supply of real beer, and this was set out on the long 
trestle table which had been erected down the broad gangway facing 
the elephants. 

Recently, I came upon a photograph of that scene. The serious, 
drawn faces are evidence enough of the trials and privations of that 
year. Both men and animals had had hard enough labour clearing 
away the ruins. My thoughts go above all to the elephants, reduced to a 
diet of nothing but mangolds and straw. The constant agitation, the 
alarms and all the depressing responsibility of those terrible days took 
too great a toll of my brother. Heinrich was already seventy. Three 
months before the unconditional surrender of Germany he was 
exhausted, and died. 



This left me alone. Carlo was in Sweden, Carl Heinrich somewhere 
in the Army, Erich in American internment. But at last there was 
news of him. Shortly before the end of the war, the interned civilian 
Germans were exchanged, and he travelled home on the Swedish 
s.s. Gripsholm. After seven long years of separation, I at last saw my 
youngest one again. 

1945, and Capitulation! Good fortune and the eleventh-hour dis- 
cernment of the man then at the head of Hamburg spared us a final 
battle for any would-be * Fortress of Hamburg/ Under that sort of 
slogan, so sadly belied by all the facts, pointlessly, in those last days 
of the war, the fanatics sacrificed many an open German city and all its 
inhabitants. At Hamburg we were spared that. At last, by what 
bridges were still standing over the Elbe, in poured British armoured 
vehicles, and when the first of these reached the corner of our grounds 
we knew that the war was over. The first Britishers to stream into the 
park were souvenir collectors and live mascot hunters. But when in 
her fluent English my white-haired sister-in-law explained that, alas, 
we had no baby bears, no desert foxes, nor even any living eagles to 
offer them, they went their way. 

I found tragi-comedy in the following incident. I had retired with 
a book to the private corner of our animal park when three Tommies 
appeared on the scene, anxious to snap themselves as a souvenir. 
Suddenly they spotted me in my deck-chair. The leading lad gave a 
peremptory little nod, to tell me to take the camera and release the 
shutter for them. Then he gave a little whistle, to call me over, and 
next, pointing to the shutter, a still more peremptory nod. So I 
lowered my book to my knee, shook my head disapprovingly, and in a 
lovely Cockney which would have delighted the heart of Reuben 
Carstang I cried: 'Wot a bloody shime, tiking a poah deaf and dumb 
b into the ruddy Army ! ' 

The response was astonishing. All three Tommies blushed to the 
tips of their ears, begged my pardon, and came quite penitently up 
to me, and when they tumbled to who I was they would not be satis- 
fied till I had my photo taken with them, each in turn releasing the 

Carl Heinrich narrowly but successfully avoided being taken 
prisoner of war. A Holstein farmer lent him a suit of clothes, and by 
devious routes he made his way home as quickly as he could. As his 
father was gone, he now had to take on his share in the business. Thus 
Heinrich's son and I together set about rebuilding all we had lost. 


The end of the Berlin Deutschland Hall. Without any panic, an audience 

of fifteen thousand persons followed each other outside, while the men 

hauled out the mobile cages with lions and tigers 

Left: A lady giraffe haughtily steps out of her well -cushioned special 

Right: Richard Sawade's pet tiger surprises a noisy party in a deck 
cabin during one of our voyages 


It was I think only now that to the full we grasped all the extent of 
our losses. For we had also lost the animals which we had evacuated 
to East and Central German zoos, partly during the war, but also 
partly after it as victims of the occupation forces. When we came to 
bring back our animals from Vienna we were unable to load even as 
few as twenty circus wagons and lorries. In the overpowering aerial 
bombardment of that grand baroque city, Dresden, the Sarrasani 
building had been one of those which went up in flames. With it went 
the baggage wagons which we had stored there, and they were full of 
equipment, uniforms, costumes, harness. And though at least our very 
lovely twenty-one white Berber stallions survived the war, not one of 
them ever reached Hamburg. 

I now placed great hopes in the speedy return of the performing 
groups which were on hire, touring Sweden, for my plan was from 
them and what circus equipment I had left two tents, a set of seating 
and a few wagons to reassemble a circus at home in Hamburg. 

But this was not to be. One Saturday morning, in the very first days 
after the capitulation, a jeep appeared and in the jeep was a young 
British officer, whose regiment had discovered a small wandering 
German circus somewhere on Liineburg Heath. This the British had 
instructed to entertain their troops. But it was a very small circus, 
and lacked a great deal. But it so happened that one member of this 
family show had a very exact knowledge of what we possessed. So 
here the British forces were they had come to requisition our big 

'Take whatever you think may come in useful/ I heard that British 
officer tell his protege, and the worthy manager of the paltry little 
circus did not wait to be told twice. 

Of course, I protested as energetically as I could against this seizure. 
In vain. Into our warehouse poured these other circus folk. They 
knew very well what they wanted. At once they set about loading 
the heavy rolls of tenting. And now, they said, all they required were 
masts, seating and the baggage wagons which went with it all. Yes, 
and was there not an electricity-generating plant? Even that British 
officer had not guessed all that a circus might need, but as it was but a 
simple question of requisitioning and packing, they thought they 
would also take another tent, as spare. Now the Britisher perceived 
that at least they owed me a requisition document. While this was 
being made out, I expressed my doubts as to whether this keen 
colleague of the circus world who was taking the stuff would be able 




to erect that very big big top without expert workers, so I contrived 
to secure agreement that my own foreman and some of my men 
should be appointed to go with our material. 

Impudence certainly conquered! The robbing circus actually set 
itself up preening with our plumage on the ground at Hamburg's 
Dammtor station, using both our tents, one beside the other. We 
could perhaps be thankful that they had not required us to empty our 
menagerie too to provide them with the trump card of a really good 
animal show. It was not till much later, when the British had estab- 
lished their military government at Hamburg, that I was able to find a 
lawyer to enter a claim against the requisitioning and in the end 
secured the return of all our equipment. 

Now, I doubt if there is any enterprise all the equipment of which 
is marked with the firm's name, so that circus manager and our head 
man now came to loggerheads, each indicating quantities of cable, 

Stlights and similar equipment as their own. The British adopted 
decision that each party should take one-half. But in those days a 
lo$t bulb was to be replaced only on the black market, if at all the 
Silver Hamburg street lamps were protected against pilfering by 
Mibed wire ! There were no nails to be bought anywhere. Whereas 
fOTthe value of one cigarette, which then cost up to ten marks, a large 
family could visit the animal park, if on the other hand one actually 
had the ten marks one could buy nothing. Anybody in those years who 
tried to put together as small a thing as a rabbit hutch could tell you 
all about it. 

Rabbit is indeed the word, for in those famine years those were our 
most 'valuable' animals. They used to delight the children, hopping 
about in our rabbit compound, and we had to have a watchman there 
all the time, for the sight of all those breeds of rabbit made visitors' 
mouths water. The great word of the time now became ' compensate.' 
To 'compensate' meant to barter. However, we had not so many 
ostrich eggs at Stellingen that we could use them very freely, and they 
were only brought into play when we simply had to get such things 
as roof felting or some nails for repairs. 

It is only today, when I turn the pages of a report on the animal park 
of the time, that I realise what an enormous amount of minute work 
our reconstruction absorbed. The greater part of the burden was 
undertaken by Carl Heinrich. Thousands of new trees and shrubs soon 
graced new lawns. Who, though, realises that for five days British 
tipping trucks conveyed three thousand cubic metres of clay taken 



from the Stellingen bomb craters to help build the new skyscrapers 
of Grindel in Hamburg? For weeks our elephants worked together 
with powerful bulldozers, levelling out the ground and removing 
piles of rubble. Thousands of holes were dug and filled with compost 
before planting could be begun. 

There were miles of hedges and fences to plant and erect, though 
those were trifles compared with the reconstruction of our training 
hall, our animal houses, not to speak of the ruined rock hills and the 
swimming pools. As I write, my eye scans the painters' and carpenters' 
statement for one month: one hundred and eighty-five garden park 
seats repaired and painted, eighty-five feeding troughs mended, one 
hundred and three mattocks and brooms fitted with handles . . . Think 
of the cost of re-equipping the workshops of the blacksmiths, up- 
holsterers, saddlers and carpenters, the money spent on new lawn 
mowers, chaff cutters, hay balers. Heating equipment and cooling 
equipment alike also made a big hole in the kitty. 

To be fair, I must record that most of our old business friends and 
also Hamburg officials helped us as far as they possibly could. For in- 
stance, a cement works supplied a number of bags of their most 
expensive grey powder for the repair of our bomb-damaged saurian 

We were also most loyally helped by the natural enthusiasm of 
Hamburg folk. In the first year of the capitulation, when for seven 
months the trams did not run on the Stellingen route, hundreds of 
thousands of people made a pilgrimage to the animal park on foot. In 
the starvation winter of 1946-7 we issued an appeal for acorn- 
gatherers, and the results exceeded our most optimistic hopes. Busy 
Hamburg children's little hands gathered in no less than one hundred 
and twenty tons of acorns as foodstuffs for the animals. The 
record was reached by Fuhlsbuttel Primary School, the pupils 
of which gathered for us seventeen tons of acorns and two tons 
of chestnuts. 

Now there came a most unexpected messenger of woe. We had had 
to put up with bomb damage and other war damage, but this new blow 
was totally unforeseeable and shattering. A Scandinavian friend of ours, 
passing through Altona Central Station, pressed a block of chocolate 
into the hand of a boy and gave him a small parcel to bring us. In this 
was a selection of Swedish newspapers. When I had glanced at them, I 
caught my breath. For what did I read but that Carl Hagenbeck of 
Stellingen was selling his Swedish property! And there was the 



advertisement, by which we were actually made out to be offering for 
sale the costly animal groups which we had hired to the Swedish 
circus for their season. Offers were to be sent to the Swedish 'Fugitive 
Capital Office* via Bank Director Ivar Vilen. And there was the 
address: Drottninggatan 36, Malmo. We had received no intimation 

All my efforts to travel to Sweden to see about the return to Ger- 
many of our property were now prevented by the refusal of visas. 
Even a personal appeal addressed to the King of Sweden remained 
without reply. Headed by Burgermeister Brauer, a number of Ham- 
burg firms jointly the German Company Union, various business 
houses and industrial houses museums and influential private persons 
now besieged the Swedish Consul with representations, all without 
result ! The British authorities referred us to the Swedes, the Swedes 
to the Allies, the Allies again to the Washington Agreement, by 
which German property abroad was to be set against German war 
damage in other countries. I bombarded all possible institutions with 
applications and protests, I visited every responsible office to which 
I could obtain entry, trying to get them to see that a limited-period 
hire of circus animals could not possibly come under the heading of 
fugitive capital. 

Meanwhile, what I was trying my best to do at top level, our ele- 
phant tamer Hugo Schmitt in Malmo was trying to do on the ground 
floor. For he too had seen the press advertisements. Full of indigna- 
tion, he untethered his five elephants and marched down to the heart 
of Malmo with them. Reaching the main street, the Kungsgatan, he 
calmly thrust his whip and the elephant goad into a policeman's hands, 
with the words: 'These are yours now/ 

In vain the staggered policeman tried to decline this trunk-swinging 
present. Off Schmitt went. The elephants sauntered about, calmly 
scratching their rumps on the corners of houses, during which 
operation windows rattled and some lamp-posts got bent. The police- 
man radioed for the police patrol car. This soon found Schmitt and 
brought him back to his elephants under arrest. He was ordered to 
take his elephants away. He countered by uttering a command, at 
which the trumpeting elephants formed round him a barrier through 
which nobody could now reach him. An angry and over-zealous 
policeman drew his pistol, but then consideration of its ridiculous 
small calibre and the possible effect on the already excited elephants 
made him quickly put it back again. 



Very soon there were naturally dense crowds round the Kungs- 
gatan, with press men busy with notebooks and cameras. An excite- 
ment like this was something Mahno had not had for a long time. 
Finally, the helpless police fetched Mr. Ivar Vilen, whose sale adver- 
tisement had so outraged Mr. Hugo Schmitt, and by friendly words 
and half promises this gentleman succeeded in getting Schmitt to take 
the animals under his charge, when they calmly went back to their 

Elephant protest at Malmol For two days the story was front-page 
news throughout Scandinavia. Cartoonists were prolific with sug- 
gestions as to how the elephants might best be used. There were hints 
both for the police and the town scavenger service, but some papers 
did also give the full story of the tragic background of the elephant 

Meanwhile, the dispersal of our property had already begun. John 
Ringling-North, the nephew of my old friend, and today head of The 
Biggest Show in the World, bought our tigers and elephants, giving the 
tamers the choice of returning to the ruins of Germany or remaining 
attached to their animals. Rudolf Matthies succeeded in getting into 
touch with me about their decision. My reply was that they were to do 
all they could to stay beside their animals, particularly since I had not 
yet given up hope of getting our property back some day. 

Our highly trained stock was knocked down for a mere song. Whole 
groups of trained animals went for the price of a single camel. The 
purchasers were principally Scandinavian circuses and zoos. The prices 
were rather like buying a valuable blood horse at so much a pound. Of 
course the proceeds were most painstakingly credited to the West 
German Republic and set against reparations costs. The relative docu- 
ments were deposited at Bonn and will in all likelihood long outlive 
all the circus animals expropriated from us. 

In the after- war years, circuses now sprang up on Germany's ruins 
like hothouse mushrooms. There were a good three hundred of them. 
Any man who could do a hand-stand or hitch a dancing bear to his 
trailer caravan now pretentiously dubbed himself a circus manager. 
Other significant changes in the circus scene had also taken place. The 
Sarrasanis, father and son, were dead, their enterprise destroyed. At 
Munich Carl Krone was denazified in his grave it cost two thousand 
marks. Like many other circuses which had been touring East Germany, 
Paula Busch in flight westwards suffered tremendous losses through 
air strafing or being plundered by occupation soldiery. Now so-called 



'organisers' men with good 'contacts* in official places and the 
business world rose high in the social scale and commanded a high 
price for their services. But though some smart people might succeed 
in having Luftwaffe parachutes tailored into new tents, then by risky 
barter operations acquiring electricity generators, heating systems, 
tractors and suchlike equipment from Allied stores of war booty, and 
also even such acquisitions as road worthy ambulance trucks, they 
could still not obtain animals, trained or otherwise, for all the fat 
bacon and coffee good currency in those days in the world. 

The zoos of Germany had been combed away, and the frontiers 
were closed. A postcard sent to Vienna's Schonbrunn Zoo came back 
overprinted 'Prohibited business correspondence.' There was at the 
time an order in force in Bavaria which made it impossible for us to 
exchange a dwarf goat for a Cameroons specimen which the Straubing 
Zoo possessed. So much for animal trade at the time. 

Shortly before the expropriation of our circus animals, my boy 
Carlo had gone to Sweden to represent us. He made his way back to 
Hamburg only via imprisonment and internment camps. But though 
back home, he was not allowed to engage in any 'leading activity' until 
certain charges against him (which were without any foundation) 
were cleared up. So Carlo turned night watchman, in the employ of 
a Hamburg firm which lets out such services. In that capacity he was 
without delay 'fixed' to serve a firm named Hagenbeck. The amuse- 
ment which our good night watchman got out of this situation was 
very heartening, for there seemed to be no regulation whatsoever 
prohibiting him in his new capacity from entering the head office, 
whether by day or night. 

Now together with my sons I erected a large marquee at the 
Dammtor station, and as the city's theatres had all been destroyed in 
the war this became the largest tented theatre at the time in the whole 
of Western Germany. We panelled out a pit and provided space for an 
orchestra of thirty players, under the baton of a prominent radio 
conductor. The canvas roof was hung across with white and gold flies, 
partly as decoration, but also for acoustic reasons. Over the giant 
stage rattled the 'Love Express,' full of popular actresses and actors 
of film and stage. Iska Geri created her kangaroo dance, the only item, 
however, which was even remotely reminiscent of our sixty-year-old 
circus tradition. Conditions were still rough. In rainy weather our 
corps de ballet reached the stage by way of the tunnel we had once used 
for lions and tigers ! But eyes grew moist when Willy Fritsch, popular 



film star of prewar days, came to the microphone with his charming 
smile and sang : 'Such great events can be, they never are repeated 
But when the evening performance was overrun by bebop youth and 
jitterbug fans, with rattles and toy trumpets, and the tent re-echoed 
as if three thousand irrepressible baboons were putting on a musical 
turn, I stopped my ears. 

Gradually now our old turns drifted back to us, as they at last got 
free from service in the forces or from prison camps. They reappeared 
on the surface, coming even from Russian mines, some of them after 
hair-raising escapes, men who had all once sailed under Hagenbeck's 
flag. There were also new faces. In the heart of a snowstorm, for 
instance, a figure suddenly entered my office in khaki and pith helmet, 
fresh from internment in Java. In strong Berlin speech he said: 
'Thought I might pop the question, whether y' c'ld do with a tamer? 
Used to do riding stuff. "The Three Rudolfos" one man, two 
women. The man, that's me. Last job was with Isako, in a little Russian 
circus. Joined 'em in Bombay, tamer died on the road, had to turn 
my hand to everything. Worked without any tent. In the monsoons. 
Indians made us one from palm leaves. Toured Singapore, Sumatra, 
Java, Borneo, Philippines. Sixteen years of it. Up to 1946. All that 
time, if I wanted to see a German, I had to look in the glass . . .' 

He was a merry fellow, but when I questioned him I found that he 
knew where to find schabrack tapirs and was familiar with the head 
porter of the Taj -Mahal Hotel in Bombay, and all that acquaintance in 
common decided it, so Rudolf Jurkschat became our youngest and our 
best postwar animal tamer. In our Stellingen training hall he prepared 
the animals, while in the Dammtor show he galloped across the stage 
as the White Knight. 

In the offices at Stellingen our old staff now sat in hat and coat 
the rooms unheated and worked throughout the hours of daylight. 
There was a coal shortage, there were electricity cuts. There was a 
food shortage too. How I envied the humour of the man in the street 
in those years of real need. I had been invited to Cologne to the first 
postwar meeting of German circus managers. It was carnival time. 
'We are the natives of Threezonesia, ' sang the merry Rhinelanders. 
And they were right in their scorn. That is all we were now, in- 
habitants of Three Zones. Our national flag had become letter C 
in the international flag signals alphabet! The iron curtain had de- 
scended right across our motherland, cutting off a fourth zone that 
under Soviet administration from us. But yet the folk of Cologne 



sang. Though the wine might be both dear and tart, for a day or two, 
at least, life seen through rose-tinted carnival specs was not so bad 
after all. 

Then the carnival president spotted me, and I had to take my place 
on the barrel and greet my lusty compatriots with a song, thereby 
earning a huge decoration and becoming honoris causa member of a new 
association, though not, I trusted, to be followed up by yet another 
questionnaire to be filled in ! But what was that the band was play- 
ing, what were the folk of Cologne singing so gaily? ' Let's go round to 
Hagenbeck's . . .' Now, that did give me new confidence. I began 
really to put my back into the task of getting all our circuses on their 
feet again. 



NEW YEAR'S DAY, 1948, was celebrated on turnip whisky and roast 
rabbit. In the animal park all the ruins had been cleared away. Fresh 
lawns stretched where once had been bomb craters. Out of the ruins 
and the central-heating pipes of the former main building Carl 
Heinrich had made a fine new free corral for our North American 
prairie buffaloes. And now from this auspicious day, a million letters 
and postcards sent daily to all parts of the world bore a special Post 
Office overprint of an elephant and the legend 100 Years of Hagenbeck. 
This message stirred echoes of pride and satisfaction in us all. 

In May, the then Mayor of Hamburg, Btirgermeister Brauer, and the 
British Military Governor Berry opened an exhibition which we had 
put up in the animal park to tell the story of those hundred years. The 
press wrote that this was more than a mere matter of private business . 
Hagenbeck's had become part of the cultural history of Hamburg. A 
central exhibit was a natural-size reconstruction of the initial unit of 
our enterprise: the St. Pauli seal pool of 1848. There was also a big 
sequence recalling the 'folk' shows of peoples from all parts of the 
world. Large wall-paintings told the story of our house animal 
catching, early animal transport, the founding of Stellingen and the 
conflagration of 1943 all this the work of our good friend the famous 
animal painter, Wilhelm Eigener. 

In the 'circus world tours' room the children all marvelled at the 
scale models of the loaded Saarland and of our circus trains with their 
gaily-coloured rolling-stock and all the animals on board. We pro- 
cured all we needed from the ruins of the Hamburg, Kiel and Bremen 
museums from 7,ooo-lb. bull walruses, with Eskimos harpooning 
them from a kayak, to a complete taxidermist's workshop in which a 
bison killed by bombs in our night of destruction was reconstructed, 
an exhibit which was later to find a permanent home in a museum. 
And from the basement of the Hamburg Art Gallery we resurrected 
and borrowed Lovis Corinth's big painting of my father against his 
Arctic Ocean Panorama complete with walruses. 

In fact, the water pools of our park were now deserted. Or, rather, 
we thought they were. For Arnulf Johannes, one of our animal 



catchers, who though homesick for Africa was now with us at 
Stellingen, provided us with a most enterprising surprise. He had 
reported sick to our park superintendent and had not been on duty 
for three weeks. But when, at the opening, after seeing the exhibition, 
I wound up by a stroll through the animal park with my guests of 
honour, what should I see come squalling towards me in the Arctic 
Ocean Panorama, but six seals, which Johannes had caught single- 
handed in the shallows of the Baltic. They certainly had better luck 
than their predecessors a century earlier, for the wash-tub with which 
those earlier seals had had to be content had grown into a small lake, 
and the polar bears (among the few animals which had survived the 
night of destruction) stared in amazement at this querulous centenary 
surprise visit. 

Besides good wishes from all over the world to mark this centenary, 
there were also live presents from foreign zoos. John Ringling-North 
had sent us eight sea-lions by air from California. Dr. Heinroth, 
Germany's only lady zoo director, who had herself called a new zoo 
to life among the ruins and rubble of Berlin, sent us an African 
porcupine. Our most aged tokens, however, were those in the charge 
of a friend from Valparaiso, coming from the far-off Galapagos Islands, 
for the lads on a Chilean training ship had sent us five giant Galapagos 
tortoises weighing from four to six hundredweight each. 

The phosphorus burns of Nepali, the only living armoured rhinoceros 
in Germany, had healed by now. Nepali weighed four tons. It was 
hard to believe that in 1943 Carlo and his porters had carried him by 
hand over the Himalayan passes. In the giraffe house our giraffe bull, 
Hans, raised his head up to the four-metre mark thirteen feet on 
the wall. He had been born shortly after the bombing. Today this 
magnificent flourishing specimen of a Stellingen 'war child* measures a 
good seventeen feet and must be the biggest giraffe bull ever in 

But for all that our centenary year began full of hopes, it was soon 
to bring me care and grief. Suddenly, by insidious illness, Carlo, my 
eldest son, was taken from us. I think I should have given up after so 
many blows of fate, had it not been for Dietrich, his fourteen-year- 
old son, the very spit of him, and now by his father's will my suc- 
cessor. The task of being my grandson's counsellor and guide in his 
education gave me new courage. 

In our Stellingen training hall our animal trainers worked at high 
pressure. The time-table was drawn up in three classes the hay-, 



the fish- and the meat-eaters and by systematic work our four- 
legged and four-flippered pupils were all taught to be performers. 
Here too we tried out our polar bears, lions and brown bears in the 
central cage, while in the paddock horse trainers worked with a team 
of eight brown Holsteins and another team of twelve fiery Arabs 
carefully selected at purchase for their colour. Here too we trained 
zebus, camels and guanacos. The Californian sea-lions learned to do 
their stuff on the horn organ, the instruments for which were by dint 
of much effort safely smuggled through the iron curtain, while our 
elephants tried their hand on a comical car, which instead of an 
engine had a barrel organ under the bonnet and kettle-drums for tyres. 

Then, all at once, overnight, like a sharp frost, currency reform 
cut back all our apparent circus-world prosperity, and the number of 
circus enterprises shrank suddenly. Artistes who preferred engage- 
ments abroad and previously had shrugged their shoulders and rejected 
our offers now became eager candidates for work. The new German 
marks were scarce, but once again they were worth earning. The 
previous day we had counted an animal park gate of eight thousand, 
six hundred and sixty, now our booking office clerk gaped at every 
rare visitor as if he were a Christmas tree, for now the entrance was 
paid for in D-marks, as they were called. The first tram which came 
out to Stellingen that day brought nobody. Nor did the second. Then 
came a plump little matron, who had actually walked, and she bought 
the first ticket with the new money. Two hundred and thirty-six 
other Hamburg folk followed her example that day. On the morrow 
there were a good thousand. After that, attendances rose steadily 

The year after the new currency came in, two German circuses 
again rose alive Phoenix-like from the ashes Carl Krone and Carl 
Hagenbeck. Once again our special orange-coloured trains began to 
run between the Baltic and the Alps. Once again Adolf Martell 
throned it in box office wagon No. 66 the same Martell who had 
taken us through Japan with his paste pot, and subsequently let 
millions of pesos, milreis, pesetas and piastres pass through his hands, 
without a penny ever going into his own pocket. In the early postwar 
years he had taken his place at the cash desk of the animal park, after 
closing hour doing stage work as a witch in Humperdinck's Hansel 
and Gretel, by which earning his daily bread ! 

Yes, now white-haired, there was that old circus Gypsy back with us 
again. He had come through the war rather better than his youthful 


eternalisation on the pediment of the monument on the Hamburg 
Courts of Justice, for that had been pretty badly knocked about. After 
his seventy-fifth birthday, he stopped dyeing his hair. That 'Devotee 
of the Folk of the Road* had once just missed being affluent by a hair's 
breadth. Indeed, it was by sheer negligence that he failed to follow 
up and insist on his rights in a song which went round the world 
with him. A thorough-going landlubber, he had been more than a 
little seasick when during a stormy Atlantic crossing he scribbled 
down his Stormy was the night and the seas rode high/ which today 
is to be heard everywhere on barrel organs and wherever records are 

Now good solid D-marks rolled in at the box office, not that there 
was not a lot to be learnt about this new postwar world. Towns 
which my earlier experience had taught me to make a big detour 
round and avoid now proved to be regular gold-mines, while on the 
other hand there were old business cities in which previously we had 
had four weeks' runs with full houses, but out of which we now had 
to pull without delay. At that pile of rubble which, like many another 
city, Emden then was, we had to get our elephants out of their stables 
to keep the East Frisian peasants from Krumme Horn in their proper 
queues, so great was the crowd seeking admission, breaking down the 
outer fence and nearly overturning the box office wagon. Whereas 
previously our audiences there had never been more enthusiastic than 
to laugh inwardly, the seating now rattled with their hearty laughter. 
Thus had war, the shift of industry and floods of refugees changed 
the whole picture of our circus business. 

When with my son I entered the paddock at Essen for our first 
postwar performance visit, there was such a roar of applause that I 
simply could not speak, I was so overcome. The Esseners had cer- 
tainly not forgotten us, and that night we touched record takings. 
For hundreds of thousands of the folk of the Ruhr metropolis the Carl 
Hagenbeck Circus brought back a breath of their more carefree 
younger days. 

At last I was fortunate enough to secure an agreement with the John 
Ringling-North circus by which we exchanged our mixed carnivore 
group for the big tiger group of which I had been robbed in Sweden. 
Sun-tanned and smart as a lord, coming straight from Havana, Rudolf 
Matthies now rejoined us. He used to take his youngest tiger, one 
which he had brought up himself, about on a lead. He counted it as 
the one hundred and twenty-seventh animal he had reared from 


infancy. Indeed, he had wet-nursed this particular tiger on the bottle. 
Baby tigers are blue-eyed and they must be suckled every two hours 
or they make a terrible fuss, and one also has to finish the job properly, 
which means giving them a painstaking massage and wash. One comes 
to realise most concretely why tiger mummies have such tough, rough 

Our circus cook, Auntie Emmy, had also rejoined us. Emmy did 
not cook only for me, but also for the giraffes, the chimpanzees, and 
all the baby animals which for this or that reason needed the little 
extra the piece of steak or the coddled egg for a baby tiger, the bowl 
of gruel for a giraffe or the sweetened dish of tea for a sweet-toothed 
chimpanzee. Emmy always had some creature to mother. 

When they saw Aunt Emmy brandish her ladle, her flushed cheeks 
bent over her pots and pans, and Franzl, her Viennese right hand, 
busily pulling on his white waiter's jacket, the circus knew what it 
meant: the old man was coming. My boy Erich was managing the 
circus now, but it was still my delight every now and then to spend 
a couple of days in my own road wagon, which was always taken round 
with the others. I loved the scent of the sawdust and the odour of the 
lions and tigers and also to hear the music of our faithful horses' 
whinnying not to speak of the plaudits of the crowd. 

In 1951 I made my last trip to the U.S.A. I travelled on the Nieuwe 
Amsterdam. Once again I established an agency in New York, and, just 
as after the first world war, I contrived to get mere correspondence 
contacts on to a firmer footing. The fact that I had not gone out at 
once in 194^ must not be put down to any lackadaisicalness on my 
part. It was solely due to the fact that this time it was incomparably 
longer as a German citizen before I had a passport and an American 
visa in my hand. 

I returned with some fine business deals in the bag, and when 
Arnulf Johannes, our first animal catcher to set out for Africa after 
the war was over, returned home with a large contingent we were 
already in a position to resume our business with the zoos of the 
United States. There was now rarely a week but some young fellow 
turned up in search of employment as animal catcher. The fact was, 
films of adventure and stories full of fantasy had so often depicted what 
was surely not a very natural calling that I feel I should underline the 
starker realities of our age. 

When some ninety years ago the first animal catchers prospected 
for us in Africa, it was admittedly the custom to buy the goodwill of 



the local chiefs with presents, and get them to expose their own men 
to the fangs of the animals. But that time has long passed away. The 
face of Africa has changed fundamentally since then. Today hunting 
is done by car, and the Masai, the Kikuyu or the Swahili who drives 
his jeep at fifty miles an hour in chase of the giraffe, even deep in the 
heart of inner Africa, knows all the wage rates paid where work is 
going on building new motor-car roads, aerodromes and petrol 
stations. In the coastal towns, the black workers are organised in their 
unions, and you pay a high price for any overtime. In some ports, 
meat prices have reached European levels. Whereas our animal 
catchers once upon a time regularly used to count on shooting 
sufficient game to feed their black porters and also the carnivores they 
had caught, in recent years they have many a time been obliged to 
release even captured hyenas, the feeding costs involved before the 
next ship could transport the animals exceeding the value of the 

This is not the only obstacle. Some shipping freights have gone up 
by several hundred per cent. Thereby the prices of the animals have 
leapt. Today an African rhino costs sixteen thousand marks, a giraffe 
from ten to fifteen thousand, an elephant from fourteen to twenty 
thousand, and even a lion as much as three thousand. These are of 
course not by any means fixed prices, for of course a lot depends on 
fluctuating supply and also on demand. 

The consequence of all this was that when now we needed to fill 
gaps in our animal stock, and resume our former trading business, 
Carl Heinrich directed his principal attention to the acquisition for 
Stellingen of a new sort of stock, namely zoological rarities. In due 
course his inquiries indicated that Persia was the country in which 
the rare onager (Equus hemionus onager) was to be found. This is the 
wild ass of Asia, which, together with the kiang and the kulan or 
dzhigetai belongs to the almost vanished race of horse-donkeys. Years 
before, these reddish-brown animals with their short upstanding manes 
and the broad dorsal eel-stripe had vanished from the world's zoos. 

Once he was sure we should find onagers in Persia, Carl Heinrich 
flew out to Teheran with Arnulf Johannes to make preparations for 
Carl Hagenbeck's first Persian expedition. This was a complete 
success, and of it Heinz Heck, the well-known zoologist, director of 
the Munich animal park at Hellabrunn, wrote : 'The reintroduction 
of a large breeding group of onagers is an event in the history of zoos. ' 

When they had bought their cars for the chase, engaged Persian 



assistants and made all the many extensive preparations for their 
expedition into the scorching hell of the Persian salt desert, urgent 
business called my nephew back to Stellingen. However, a few weeks 
later a transport aircraft flew the first onager foals to Hamburg and 
the pilot handed Carl Heinrich a letter, which is worth giving as it 

'We set out two days after you left, and have just succeeded in 
finishing the job. We had travelled for two days and nights, taking 
turns at the wheel, Hossein and myself in the first jeep, in the 
second our mechanic and another man. After us went the baggage 
truck. It was a good idea to send out a camel caravan into the salt 
desert in advance to establish water and fuel depots. By the time we 
reached our last caravanserai, where the world ended and the vast 
expanse of the desert lay before us, we used up a good four thousand 
litres of petrol (eight hundred and eighty gallons). 

'We made our capturing trips from that base. A native maintained 
that he had once seen onagers to the north. After a good hour's run 
we parted company from our other jeep, which was to drive the 
animals towards Hossein and myself. Using our field glasses, we saw 
nothing whatsoever from nine to five in the afternoon, except that 
we kept seeing mirages. Only a few hundred yards away, villages, 
trees, lakes, water, and we saw them a hundred times in the course 
of the day. Many a time we were on the point of getting ready for a 
dip, to get rid of the perspiration, but it was all illusion, a treacher- 
ous play of light, fata morgana, the shimmering of the hot air over 
the desert. 

* Whereas in August the temperature at Teheran reaches up to 
1 2o F. in the shade, out there, without exaggeration, it goes up to 
140 F. Except that there is really no shade. No trees, not even a 
bush. Previously, I had been convinced that the French Sudan and 
the Red Sea ports were the hottest spots of the earth's surface, but 
that is nonsense. 

'Here lives the onager, and apart from this, no animal, no bird, 
no insect, not even a scorpion. Dogs and cats had been taken out to 
that caravanserai, but in a few days they had always died from the 
heat. I myself have hardly any skin left on my hands, for I forgot 
your advice about gloves, and during our neck-breaking drives I 
always had to cling to the burning hot metal- work of the jeep. We 
cooked our eggs in the hot sand. This is the absolute truth. 



'Suddenly, there was a cloud of dust high in the air, and we saw 
a small herd of onagers galloping down on us. Then we forget every- 
thing else, and I soon enough had my catching pole in my scorched 
hands. At last, after all those weeks of preparations and days of in- 
action, some of which you too experienced, we had reached our 
goal. Hossein drove on and we were soon among the onagers, 
which were in swift flight. Hossein drove like a devil, but sensibly. 
He brought me in so close to the game I wanted that one might 
have thought he had never done anything else in his life; the co- 
operation was wonderful and we both enjoyed it. 

'The first one I managed to lasso was a fully grown mare. I leapt 
down from the car, hobbled her and on we went. Then at last we 
saw the first foal in the herd. Hunting that down scarcely took three 
minutes. When the dust cleared, I had it in my arms. I got it into 
the car and off we roared again. The herd doubled back and we 

after it. At 30 m.p.h. our jeep bounced badly off the hummocks 
and over the pot-holes, and in such country it was impossible to do 
more. For three-quarters of an hour the onagers kept that speed up. I 
remember glancing at the clock and seeing that we were doing 
precisely 29^ m.p.h., but not a drop of perspiration appeared on 
those animals' skins. Incredible, at that temperature and that 

'In the course of the rest of the day we caught two more foals 


My brother Hcinrich Hagenbeck with polar hears and a walrus 
at Stel linger) 

Three generations of Hagenbecks. Standing [left to right], Girl Heinrich 
Hagenbeck (nephew of Lorcnz Hagenbeck), Erich Hagenbeck (son), Mrs. 
Heike Hagenbeck (wife of Carl Heinrich), Mrs. Hlse Hagenbeck (wife), 
Dietrich Hagenbeck (grandson). Sitting, Lorenz Hagenhcck, Evelyn 
Hagenbeck (grand-daughter) 

A valuable passenger from the Persian salt desert. The first onager 

foal to set foot ir^Hamburg, being led from the airdaft by my nephew, 

Carl Hrnrich and my grandson, Dietrich 


and a grown stallion. First we took the young animals back to base, 
then one of the jeeps brought in an adult onager. That cost us more 
sweat and labour than all the eight foals altogether which we caught. 
Onagers have the devil in them. A maddened zebra stallion is a 
lamb in comparison with one of those. They butted the fencing like 
rams. This stallion lashed out, kicking everything within reach, 
snapping with menacing teeth, then suddenly took a standing jump 
and cleared the wall round the caravanserai and that was eight 
feet high and off it raced! I never saw anything like it. It was 

'The onagers drink salt water exclusively and even eat the hard 
salt clay. We got to Teheran the day before yesterday. I shall give 
the pilots instructions as to feeding and other attention. I am 
sleeping with my little nags tonight, and shall put up their stalls in 
the aircraft tomorrow. There is a terrible lot of room to spare inside. 
The mechanic and the cook whom we took on together in Teheran 
were wash-outs. They backed out. At the last moment before we 
left for the desert they were afraid of their own pluck. I have put 
our cars in for repairs here. They all have spring, axle and trans- 
mission troubles. It was truly a hell-ride. When we left, Hossein's 
Teheran friends were most scornful about his setting out on so 
hopeless an attempt as catching onagers. Now we are the cynosure 
of all eyes and the whole press is full of our expedition to the salt 
desert. You keep your fingers crossed, so they all arrive safe and 
sound. Those little nags will delight your heart. They are indeed 
more horse than ass; they don't hee-haw at all, they whinny. I 
shall expect your wire, meantime will load up with six thousand 
litres (thirteen hundred and twenty gallons) of gas, then off we go 
north to the Caspian. Hossein is going to be in on this too, and I 
also hope to get some leopards there and perhaps a maned tiger as 

With that first Persian expedition 1 have run rather ahead of my 
story, so now I will give a quick glance back at the fortunes of our 
circus. We had already toured the remaining West German towns in 
our first years of touring. Switzerland was the first foreign country to 
which we could now make a return visit. That, however, was not so 
simple a matter, and before we had had time to wash the feet of our 
hooved and cloven-footed animals with soda-water, so as to be able to 
satisfy the strict veterinary requirements of that dazzlingly clean little 



country, I received a letter. This was from a Swiss circus friend who 
had so far been of exemplary conduct, but now, if I dared to take my 
circus over 'his* frontier, threatened an end to our friendship. More- 
over, he plastered our road with obstacles. However, these the Swiss 
Government service removed one by one with such courtesy and 
fairness that today we all look back on our successful run at Basle- 
Birsfelden with real pleasure. 

'Hagenbeck is a name which rings loud in the circus world, ' wrote 
the press of Antwerp the following year, when we took our show to 
Belgium. We were out at Berchem, a suburb of Antwerp, where, 
after the first world war, Sarrasani's circus was destroyed by fire. 
We were welcomed as friends, but, owing to the rate of exchange of 
the Belgian franc, the receipts were far below those of our Swiss visit. 

Now, however, with the close of this fifth touring season, we re- 
solved to give our touring circus a rest. Our name gives the public 
the right to expect from us not only a first-class circus programme, 
with numerous performing animal groups, but also a rich menagerie. 
But the heavy costs and the large personnel which this demands already 
meant that West Germany of today was too small a field to work in. 
In that restricted area there were at least twenty-five more or less 
significant circus enterprises, not to speak of tented ice revues and 
variety shows. Further, the crash of the Busch Circus, which was 
broken up at Manila, indicates the difficulties which with present high 
sea freights stand in the way of oversea circus tours. Nor is the 
political atmosphere everywhere abroad yet satisfactory for German 
circus companies to be able to travel unhindered. Purely business con- 
siderations therefore persuaded us in future to concentrate all our 
energies on the Stellingen Animal Park, on capturing new animals and 
on trading in animals. 

In spite of this decision to curtail the circus, however, work in our 
Stellingen animal training school continued. For one thing, this pro- 
vides us with the possibility of showing visitors our animals in all their 
movements. In addition, even in animals play and occupation are the 
best specific against boredom. The higher the intelligence they reach, 
in fact, the greater is their need to be occupied. This is a factor which 
must be taken account of, even if only in the form of scratching posts 
in the carnivores' cages, balls for the bears to play with, and gym- 
nastic appliances for chimpanzees. Otherwise, illnesses develop. 

My father, of course, devoted great attention to these matters at 
an early date and, moreover, on purely empirical grounds, but in 



recent years scientists have turned more and more seriously to the 
study of animal psychology generally, and this has recently moved 
closer and closer to that of human beings. 

In the foreword to his extremely interesting book on Animal 
Psychology in Zoo and Circus Professor Dr. H. Hediger, the well-known 
Swiss zoologist and director of the Zurich Zoo, says : 'The researcher 
of this field seems to me like a man exploring caverns forging ahead, 
he has penetrated into a most interesting chamber. But as he feels his 
way forward ahead of him he perceives still more vast halls, the 
approaches to which will one day suddenly open up and astound.' 


THE SHOOTING was harmless it was the transformation of our animal 
park into an open-air film studio. Poison in the Zoo was the name of the 
film, and the story was based on the never-explained murder of 
animals in the Frankfurt Zoo. 

I am, alas, rather past the age at which one gets excited about film 
stars, but all the same my Stellingen staff were one with me. Irene von 
Meyendorf was not merely an actress of great beauty and charm, she 
also had the makings of a first-class animal tamer in her. In the film, 
however, the leading stars were our animals. Indeed, our elephants 
acted being poisoned with such realism that the Society for the Pre- 
vention of Cruelty to Animals actually suspected the producer of 
having gone a bit too far with his verisimilitude. That of course was 
nonsense, but he certainly took some wonderful sequences of our park. 
At the dramatic climaxes, however, he had recourse to sheer trickery. 
For instance, a well-fitting nylon costume transformed a harmless eel 
into a dangerous hooded cobra. 

What, however, few seem to know is that Stellingen had also much 
earlier been fairy godmother to the German silent film. But of course 
it was a good forty years since Fritz Lang, later famous in Ufa and 
Hollywood work and producer of New Babylon, made a three-decker 
adventure film entitled The Golden Spider, which was shot in the 'Wild 
West' of Stellingen 's rocky landscape! 

Year in, year out, my grandson Heinrich Umlauff here produced 
wonderful background landscapes for our folk exhibitions. The 
Sphinx and the Pyramids, Eskimo igloos, Negro kraals and the ruins of 
Luxor were all set up for the summer season, made from plaster of 
Paris, laths and wire netting, all provided from the stock of I. F. G. 
Umlauff's Museum of Trade. Here Werner Krauss, Harry Piel, Anita 
Berber and all the rest of them took their first steps in film work. 
When today I come upon our moss-grown statue of the Buddha on our 
Japanese Island, I still seem to see a fair maiden kneeling there before 
a stern high priest. That enchanting Madame Butterfly of 1919 was Lil 
Dagover. In 1953 on the same patch of soil television cameras shot the 
tragic meeting of Lieutenant Pinkerton and his geisha girl. 



In this case, Carl Heinrich had simply telephoned his consent to the 
television studio, but quite forgot to inform our park superintendent. 
Hence one morning that poor fellow could not believe his eyes when 
suddenly a jeep full of American soldiers, with legs dangling outside, 
dashed in through the Japanese temple gates. 

Til teach you manners/ he roared, and followed the threat with a 
flood of the sort of blunt English you can pick up from stevedores in 
New York Harbour. 

The gum-chewing Americans pulled up sharply. 'Okay, chief,' 
they cried and then followed a stream of good Hamburg dialect 1 

Somewhere between these two Butterfly episodes there was also the 
evening when I met my good friend the animal-story teller Paul 
Eipper and his Swiss counterpart', Bengt Berg, in Berlin's Hotel Eden, 
and the talk was of animal films, by which I mean serious animal films, 
for I always feel badly cheated when I see Indian rhesus monkeys in an 
African setting, or else in an Indian setting an elephant with such 
enormous flap ears that one would recognise it as African. 

'What on earth am I to film now? 1 was Bengt Berg's question, for, 
as he said, his Abu Marub had to have a sequel. 

'Go to Nepal,' I replied, 'and film the last Indian armoured rhino- 
ceros. Hurry, before the race is entirely wiped out. My boy Carlo has 
just obtained a permit to capture a young one for us. ' 

Off went Berg, contacted Carlo somewhere in the Indian jungle, 
and wrote that fine book The Last Rhino. 

Soon after this I found myself in New York again, and was strolling 
along Broadway, where every year since I first saw it new skyscrapers 
had sprung up like mushrooms. A dazzling neon advertisement enticed 
me into a cinema, and the title of the film was Tiger Hunting in India. 
It really was remarkable. The sound track had obviously been added 
later, and with a frivolity which has only tended to die out in recent 
years. For latterly, among other films coming from America, we have 
had the superlatively photographed animal films of Walt Disney. The 
sound track of that tiger-hunting film simply did not fit the animals 
shown. Indian rhesus monkeys had been given the voices of the roaring 
apes of Brazil, which is rather like giving a silent film of Munich 
brewers' draymen a sound track in Chinese. 

At the same time, the photography was superb. Hunting elephants 
put up a rhinoceros. Like an antediluvian monster, the creature raced 
through the jungle. These were pictures of a beauty I had never before 
seen. But, unfortunately, to make the film still more exciting, the 


Hollywood boys had felt obliged to mix in some stills of a tiger hissing. 
But for this they had not taken the large Bengal tiger, but its diminutive 
Sumatran cousin, and this too a specimen which, judging by its coat, 
had had rather a long confinement in an old-fashioned zoo. Brazilian 
parrots and African chimpanzees made my displeasure complete. 
Going out to smoke a cigar in the foyer, whom should I find but the 
manager of the cinema, so I told him the things which had displeased 
me. He asked me for my address and promised to send my criticism 
to the film studio. 

Some months later I was rung up at Stellingen by the. German Tobis 
Film Company. They had received that tiger hunt film from America 
with the request to have a new sound track made and fresh montage. A 
couple of days later, a mobile unit came out. I saw the film again, made 
precise notes, and though it would have been too much to correct 
every detail, I was able to indicate how to re-do the most important 

We began work at three o'clock one morning, as at that time of day 
there would be no factory sirens or street noises to interfere. We took 
up a position near the elephants, and I had a tiger brought round in a 
cage- wagon. The scene was entitled 'The tiger attacks a hunting 
elephant. ' The first thing to record was the background noise of the 
elephant crashing its way through the forest. Some dry sticks were 
laid down, I took an elephant gently by the ear, and led him over them. 
But the sound-track man shook his head. It was all wrong. And when I 
listened myself, I found that the snapping of real branches sounded 
more like machine-gun fire than anything else via the microphone. 
Our ponderous actor was then required to walk over mere brush- 
wood and there was our right sound ! 

Next came imposition of the sound of the tiger's attack. Into this 
we needed to mix both elephant trumpeting and the roaring of the 
tiger, together with crashing branches and the chatter of monkeys. 
The latter was to be the background noise, on which I superimposed 
elephant trumpeting by the simple device of tickling my elephant's 
front feet, for that is the beast's most sensitive part, and my efforts 
immediately produced an agonised bellowing. To that it was not at all 
difficult to add the roaring tiger. All we had to do was to have a keeper 
stick a fine lump of fresh meat on a feeding fork, take off his shoes, 
and creep softly past the cage-wagon that tiger roared all right. 

A little ingenuity also provided us with the sound of the scene in 
which a large crocodile emerges hissing from the water and with two 



snaps of his jaws snaffles a couple of ducks. Here is the sound track 
recipe for such an incident. A light tap on the crocodile's snout pro- 
duces your outraged hiss. A slap on the water with a board produces 
his emergence. And the ducks? As simple as pi. All you need do is to 
take one finger and tickle the part where the eggs come out; you 
will get your death- throe quacking without fail. The tests worked 
perfectly. The film unit had reckoned on three weeks* work. By 
breakfast the whole job was done ! 

Many are the films which have been shot at Stellingen or with our 
help, many too the television shows. One of the finest of these was 
Cecil B. deMille's great American colour film The Greatest Show on 
Earth. Here, through our animals and tamers, we were unwilling 
collaborators. That film, as it Happens, reminded me vividly of my 
own young days in American circus work. However, it did bring 
about another meeting with Minjak. In the German dubbing of that 
film her name remained the same, but even without that I would have 
known her from a hundred other elephants. Minjak, expropriated in 
Sweden, was born at Stellingen. Now she had been filmed in the 
biggest circus in the world, and was the star of all the other animals 
in it. Her foot swayed menacingly over the head of a girl artiste. She 
carried her principal producer, another girl performer, in her mouth. 
And she went through it all as magnificently as she had originally 
learned in our Stellingen school. When I saw that film, I found myself 
drying my eyes in the kindly darkness of the cinema. 


I SHOULD never have found the time to write these reminiscences, had 
a fall while out hunting on Luneburg Heath not brought it home to me 
that at the age of seventy-three I was now very much a veteran, and as 
there were other Hagenbecks to take on it was high time I retired to a 
quiet old age. My legs were no longer so obedient as they used to be, 
a sad admission for an old globe-trotter and passionate horseman. 
When the year before this my old friend Wilhelm Filchner had paid 
me a visit I envied him his vigour, and a few days later was shocked to 
learn of his car accident near Celle. Now we two old boys were both 
on our backs, exchanging wishes for a speedy recovery. We were 
both of us still possessed by a desire to roam the wide world which 
refused to be suppressed. He wanted to go to Tibet, I to Australia, 
the only part of the earth which I had never seen. 

Meanwhile, the personal mail kept piling up on my desk, and in the 
drawer the little boxes of my grand-nephew and grandson were 
waiting for the postage stamps which when I got down to it I should 
divide between them. Every letter, however odd, was to be answered 
after which the more remarkable ones would find a place in my 
album of curiosities. Let us peep inside that! 

'Dear Carl Hagenbeck, 

'I should very much like to have a monkey, a real one with lice, 
please write and tell me how much a little one costs. And also what 
a monkey likes to eat best. If the monkey does not cost more than 
$D. marks, So pfennigs, he should send it at once.** 

'Dear Carl Hagenbeck, 

'May I tell you that I have the same name as your giraffe Adele. 
Please stop making my name public property like that. 

'Yours very truly, 
'(signed) Adele Senf.' 

* This is the text of the facsimile illustration. Translator. 



&e&e/y (fort 
JcA vnodifa. qvme sujn&n - 

^ Jbfil* 

'I wish to inquire whether you can supply me with five to ten 
each of wood-ticks, fleas and bed-bugs. If you can meet me, kindly 
inform me how much you are asking, postage and packing in- 

*One of the lions in your lion house urinated and sent his water 
straight over my blouse. I have had to have everything dry cleaned, 
as it stank horribly. I put it to you is this necessary?* 

'Yesterday in your animal park I was informed that a young seal 
is called Moses. That will not do ! For Moses was a chosen man, who 
clearly fulfilled the Creation plan and moreover gave us the Ten 
Commandments. I have often been very annoyed when people give 
their dogs human names. A man may be sitting on a bench and 
another comes along and sits down beside him and then addresses his 
dog as 'Rolf,' while the man who was on the seat first is also called 
Rolf; moreover, his name is consecrated by the sacrament of 
baptism. That sort of thing creates distressing situations.' 

For our most delicious letter, however, we had to thank a little 
fellow called Heiner. Little Heiner was in his first year at school at 
Ellerau, near Hamburg. He loved listening when teacher was talking 
to the second class, which occupied the same room, and so he over- 
heard the story of the creation of the earth. In his letter he said : 

formerly the whole earth was all dark, so dear God first made 



Light. Then came Heaven and Earth. Now dear God also wanted 
water. He created Water and Dry Land. He also made Grass and 
Trees, then the Lights in the Heavens too. Finally, He created the 
Animals and after that He made Mr. Hagenbeck because He had 
to have somebody to look after them.' 

If little Heiner rather got Hagenbeck and Adam mixed, do not 
adults often confuse us with millionaires ? I know our huge animal 
park, covering seventy acres, is worth many millions. But we have 
never been millionaires in cash. The tax authorities see. to that. 

On Saturdays, when crowds of twenty to thirty thousand people 
swarm through our park, I have often heard wonderful ad hoc esti- 
mates of our annual takings. How I wish they were right, for if so we 
could have realised many of our new plans much more quickly. But as 
owners of a private animal park we have always had to turn every penny 
over twice. Owing to our geographical position rather far north 
our summer takings, though ample, are badly offset by seven winter 
and transitional months, which easily swallow the summer profits. 

If of recent years our revenue has increased considerably, and even 
exceeded the record figure of 1914, this is due to the buses which 
now bring so many hundreds and thousands to our very gate. Round 
the animal park we have even been obliged to establish parking and 
camping areas. Over the camping tents of our many visitors we see the 
bright colours of nearly every country of Europe within easy reach. 
Today it is our Scandinavian visitors who top the list here I include 
the Finns and buses roll in direct from Stockholm, Copenhagen, 
Oslo and Helsinki. 

In the past few years, Carl Heinrich has enriched the park with a 
number of new compounds. The open enclosures of the bisons, the 
guanacos and the giraffes, and above all the tigers' jungle, have added 
richly to the list of objects of interest which now annually bring 
about one and a half million visitors in. There are in the world alto- 
gether some four hundred zoos, and among these there are richer 
zoos and there are zoos with larger grounds. But still when people 
want to found a new zoo they come to Stellingen to see how to do it. 

Early in the morning, while there are few visitors about, I love to 
ride through the familiar paths, for my legs are now inclined to fail 
me. It is a gentle sort of ride, but one of the pleasures it offers me is to 
have a veteran keeper come to my window for a yarn and give me 
news of his animals. I also see my grandson and successor Dietrich at 


his work, and Carl Heinrich tells me the news concerning us both. 

But for all the many times I have been through this park, I still find 
something new every time. Just now, on the bank of the artificial 
river in the tigers' jungle, I observed one of the brilliantly striped big 
cats fish out a bream with a swift swing of his paw. A fisherman tiger. 
Tigers love fish quite as much as our domestic cats do. There was also a 
proud swan mother piloting three mousy grey balls of wool along, 
while a fourth rode contentedly on Mother's back, and there were 
swamp turtles, sunning themselves on a warm stone. It seems only 
yesterday that .we installed the young cygnet on the goldfish pond 
where the Japanese Island stands and see, but already she has grown 
up and there is increase. 

At the quarantine station, the arrival of animal transports provides 
the occasion for interesting conversations with our animal catchers 
and with our own and the Government veterinary surgeons. And when 
the weather is wild and the rain lashes down on the roof of my car, I 
often have a lovely sight: our elephant herd's trunks flourished high 
in the air as they happily trumpet and roll with delight in the clay mud 
by the shore. This mire is the best of all creams for thick-skinned 
creatures, and they simply revel in it. 

Sometimes I come upon my most intimate old girl-friend, Meni. 
She is only fifty in my eyes quite a young piece. We both have our 
memories in common, for she was once our best-of-all working 
elephant. She is familiar with loading ramps in four continents. 
Indeed, she has often had to build them where there were none. Later 
in life she came to levelling out bomb-torn ground and hauling away 
dud bombs. She has ploughed our arable land, and on my seventieth 
birthday she serenaded me with a barrel organ. Now here she comes, 
like a faithful nannie, leading a young African elephant by a leading 
string as thick as your arm. He is rather an undisciplined fellow, a 
recent capture, and he tugs all ways. He looks as if he would like to 
turn somersaults, he is so spirited, when suddenly, slappp! and Meni 
has given him such a box behind his enormous rhubarb-leaf flap ear. 
Now then, pay attention, won't you, do what your auntie tells you! 

In the training hall a new four-flippered sea-lion is practising his 
horn piano. The tune is still the old familiar one ('My cocked hat 
has three corners'), but then, these are still conservative animals. 

Now we are at the children's playground, and here comes a crowd 
of excited kiddies. With gleaming eyes the boys and girls steer their 
miniature cars over the miniature track. The riding elephants go their 


rounds, the brightly painted horses of the roundabouts gyrate, and 
the organ blares out that song which has brought the generations to 
Stellingen 'Let's go round to Hagenbeck's 1 ' 

Recently, Carl Heinrich and I sat in our new reception building 
at the main entrance, again expecting an august visitor. The President 
of the West German Union, Professor Theodor Heuss, had promised 
to visit us. Before me lay ready our visitors' book of honour, bound in 
elephant hide, and with our arms embossed. Carl Heinrich undid the 
heavy fastener and we turned the pages. 

It began with 1907. In that year the Countess von Bismarck brought 
her children to Stellingen. Prince Alexander von Oldenburg travelled 
from Gagry in the Caucasus to us. Indeed, the animal park seems to 
have been specially intended for princes, for in they came in that year, 
from Prussia, Monaco, and the Netherlands, some on official visits, 
others incognito, and among the signatures we found the picturesque 
designs of Japanese and Chinese writing. There too were the signatures 
of the Crown Prince and his consort. I still recall their being photo- 
graphed with a baby tiger. Yes, and there is the sweeping signature of 
the last Kaiser, followed by that of the Empress. It was she who 
opened our famous ostrich farm. Every name awakens memories. 
1 Two things to be seen,' the unforgettable tenor Enrico Caruso wrote 
in the book in 1908, 'are the Germans and Hagenbeck's.' Hamburg's 
biggest shipper, creator of the Hamburg- America line, Albert Ballin, 
was here, and so were Hans Luther, Chancellor of the Reich, who 
signed the Locarno Pact, and Thomas A. Edison, the brilliant American 
inventor. They all came. Among them I find the signatures of Scandi- 
navian monarchs and German princes and counts, of these the most 
famous being that of Count Zeppelin. When he visited us he little 
thought that before starting on its round-the-world cruise a great 
airship of his invention would circle in farewell over our animal park, 
when all our polar bears stood on their hind legs and stared in amaze- 
ment at the big silver cigar which made so much noise in the sky. 
Anna Pavlova the great ballerina, Lil Dagover and Suzanne Rocke- 
feller all took out their pens here, and President von Hindenburg's 
signature stands next that of aged Field-Marshal von Mackensen. 

In spirit I can still see this train of personalities enter the main 
entrance. Brilliant uniforms, exotic costumes, rustling silks, trim 
civilian clothes, but, once off their thrones, their chairs, their high 
places, men just like us all, enjoying all that at Stellingen one animal 
friend had to offer others. 


Hamburg, the Harbour, Hagenbeck, here was a triple assonance 
which gave our native city world fame. Today, whenever I hear that 
one of our animal catchers is expected into port I have to go down to 
the Elbe again. The road takes me through St. Pauli, the playground 
of my childhood, then by the magnificent embankment road to Schulau. 
There I stop the car and through my glasses watch the steamer come in 
from the Baltic up the river, and hear the loud-speakers at Will- 
kommen-Hoft sonorous over the water: Welcome to Hamburg 
Harbour. ' From the upper deck I see a sun- tanned man waving. There 
are animal boxes on deck, and I am suddenly as young as I was fifty 
years ago when on the s.s. Ehrenfels I brought home my first elephants. 
Old Michel is still there, the seagulls croak, the tide rises and falls as 
it did then, the only difference is that in the meantime I have turned 
into 'old Hagenbeck.' 

Recently I was visited by an American broadcast radio reporter who 
was collecting what he thought were celebrities. He wanted me to tell 
his microphone what I believed in. He thought he was going to be able 
to give his hearers the answer to a question I have been trying to 
answer all my life. 

'When I was young,* is what I said, 'upbringing and tradition 
all tended to build up a belief in God, in the German Kaiser and in 
the Fatherland. Much travel spread over many years and frequent 
lengthy stays in the United States of America later made me en- 
thusiastic about what seemed to be the rather freer way of life of 
the Americans. Many years later still, I once found myself seated 
opposite a most gracious and clever lady in the Imperial Palace in 
Tokyo and on that occasion I heard words which suddenly opened 
my mind to a strange world and an attitude of mind where our 
European measures proved useless. During that Far Eastern voyage 
of mine I realised that the roads to God are many and also that there 
are many ways of governing humanity. 

'This I was reminded of further when, coming in from the sea, 
on one occasion I saw the gleaming statue of Christ towering over 
the Bay of Rio de Janeiro, on another the giant form of the Daibutsu 
of Kamakura, on yet another, when I stood before the Cathedral at 
Ulm, or, yet again, before the Pyramids of Gizeh. Those are all 
symbols in stone of views of the world extant or lost, about that 
riddle over which the peoples of the world have ever racked their 


'This, however, is not the place for me to make an assault on 
precise judgments about such things. I would rather say that I have 
been happy to find men in every part of the world who were good 
friends to me. By this I mean friends who even in times of tre- 
mendous outbursts of hatred among the peoples did not turn their 
backs on me. It was knowing such men as these, some of them of the 
simplest origin, and everywhere in the world, that gave me faith 
in those hours of utter despair into which evil teachings and 
military technique would otherwise have thrust me. 

'Today we pat ourselves on the back for being able to fly round 
the world in a matter of hours, yet we sometimes need several 
months to assemble all the necessary visas, certificates and rubber 
stamps. Yet, when I first went to India, half a century ago, all I 
needed was a steamship ticket ! 

'So my cry is: Down with the frontiers! Create understanding, 
practise tolerance and let every people be happy after its own 
fashion. That, simply summed up, is what life has taught me. There 
is no such thing as an "American way of life," just as there is no 
such thing as a German way, by which to give the world back its 
health nor are there any proletarians of all lands straining to 
unite! Most watchwords, most symbols, most monuments are 
merely evidence of the wrong roads which from time to time man- 
kind tries. Besides, the world is still full of beauty and unsolved 
problems, among which it is the zoological ones which hold my 

'So please forgive an old circus fellow,' I concluded, in my little 
homily to the American reporter's microphone, 'this perhaps 
rather banal-sounding comparison : If with a team of a couple of 
dozen folk all of different nations, religions and political views I 
could spend fifty years making seven world tours, to everybody's 
satisfaction and delight, it ought to be feasible to solve the present 
problem of international co-operation on a much larger scale than I 
see any attempt being made at the present juncture.' 

There is one feature that men have in common with animals: 
forcible methods of training generally cost the trainers their lives. 
With love, understanding and well-filled stomachs one can achieve 
the greatest results. That is what I believe and I would be grateful if 
you would make use of my little circus example to that end.